Campaign 2012 goes a bit peanuts and crackerjack

June 26, 2012

 Massachusetts may have a reputation as the bluest of Democratically blue states, but it is also resoundingly red — as in Red Sox nation. And President Barack Obama seemed to hit a nerve at a fundraiser in Boston on Monday night when he made a joke involving his favorite baseball team, the Chicago White Sox, at the expense of the suffering denizens of Fenway.

“Boston, I just want to say thank you for (Kevin) Youkilis,” Obama said at a fundraiser at Boston Symphony Hall, referring to the popular infielder, a fixture on two Boston World Series winning teams, who was traded from Boston to Chicago during the weekend.

The crowd, who had paid at least $250 per ticket, reacted to his comment with (friendly) boos.

But Obama continued: “I’m just saying. He’s going to have to change the color of his ‘sox,’” a comment greeted by more laughter and boos.

So Obama quickly backpedalled — perhaps like a first- or third-baseman (like Youkilis) chasing a popup — “I didn’t think I’d get any ‘boos’ out of here, but, I guess I shouldn’t have, I should not have brought up baseball. I understand. My mistake,” he said, to more boos.

“My mistake,” Obama said. “You’ve got to know your crowd.” That last comment was greeted by laughter, and a call of “We still love you,” from one audience member.

As things do during a heated campaign season, Obama’s comments quickly echoed throughout the world of social media, with a special resonance because Obama was speaking in the state where his Republican rival Mitt Romney was governor. A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee repeated Obama’s comment on Twitter and other Romney supporters accused Obama of mocking Bostonians when they were down.

Of course, there may be another explanation for what sounded like “boos.”

Bill Burton, a former White House deputy press aide who is now running a pro-Obama Super PAC, tweeted on Tuesday morning: “Those weren’t boos in Boston — it was that goofy thing Bostonians do when they cheer for Youkilis — Yooooouuukkkk….”

Photo credit: President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at Symphony Hall in Boston June 25, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing

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