President Obama rooting for Steelers in Super Bowl

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama said he’s pulling for the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Arizona Cardinals in football’s biggest game on Sunday – and he did so with a politician’s touch.

Obama said Thursday that he would root for Pittsburgh against the “long-suffering” and “great Cinderella story” Cardinals. His spokesman also said the president would watch the game with members of Congress.

“I have to say, you know, I wish the Cardinals the best,” Obama said diplomatically. “You know, Kurt Warner is a great story, and he’s closer to my age than anybody else on the field.”

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Warner, Arizona’s 37-year-old quarterback, came out of nowhere about a decade ago to take the St. Louis Rams to two Super Bowls, including a title in 2000. Just when he seemed washed up, Warner rose to the top again this year with a stellar performance. His team was not expected to make the playoffs, let alone get to the title game.

Steelers owner Dan Rooney, a longtime Republican, endorsed Obama’s presidential bid and campaigned for him. During Oval Office remarks, Obama noted that one of the Steelers most beloved former players, Franco Harris, had campaigned for him in Pittsburgh, too.

“Other than the (Chicago) Bears,” Obama said, “the Steelers are probably the team that’s closest to my heart.”

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the invitation to watch the Super Bowl is part of the new administration’s efforts to work across the political aisle, similar to his bipartisan cocktail party Wednesday night at the executive mansion.

“You know, the president also wanted last night to be a little bit more social, you know, so that individuals could better get to know each other and understand where they’re coming from in these legislative disagreements,” Gibbs told reporters Thursday. “But, again, you know, the president’s outreach on this will continue.”

During the pregame show, Obama also planned to participate in a live interview on NBC with Matt Lauer.

Vice President Joe Biden, a native of Scranton, Pa., also is cheering for the Steelers. He told CNBC that he’s having a Super Bowl party at the vice president’s residence “with some of our Republican and Democratic friends.”

“I know you’re supposed to be one of these guys that says I’m not sure,” said Biden. “But I want to make clear, I’m rooting for the Steelers. Go, Mr. Rooney.”

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