What is it about a Slurpee?
The frozen beverage so popular at 7-Eleven convenience stores has become the biggest laugh line of President Barack Obama’s campaign speech for Democrats running in the midterm election.
The thirst quencher became entwined with Obama’s analogy of the U.S. economy as a car that Republicans drove into a ditch when they ran government. Here is how he told the story on Tuesday at a fundraiser in Milwaukee for Mayor Tom Barrett who is running for Wisconsin governor.
“It’s as if they drove a car into the ditch and then we had to put on our boots and go down there in the mud, and we’ve been pushing and shoving. And they’ve been standing aside and watching us, and saying, ‘you’re not pushing right, you’re not pushing fast enough’,” he said to loud laughter from the crowd. ”You know, they’re drinking on a Slurpee or something and…” he said to even louder laughter and cheers from the audience.
“So we’re huffing and puffing, and we finally get this car out of the ditch, finally have it on level ground. We’re moving forward. And they turn to us and say, ‘we want the keys’,” he continued, to more chuckles from the audience of Democratic donors. “Well, you can’t have the keys back. You don’t know how to drive. You got us into the ditch. You can get in the backseat if you want.”
The story ends with a pun: “If you want to make your car go forward, what do you do? You do it in D,” he said.
“If you want it going backwards, what do you do? You put it in R. That’s not an accident.” (D for Democrat, R for Republican).
Obama has modified his metaphor for each of the fundraisers this week as he has traveled thousands of miles back and forth across the country — from Washington to Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Seattle, Columbus and Miami — raising millions of dollars for Democratic candidates ahead of the Nov. 2 election. But in every corner of the country, the Slurpee line gets the story’s biggest laugh.
In Seattle, at an appearance for incumbent Senator Patty Murray and other Washington state Democrats, the president added a hand gesture, pretending to be a Republican sipping a Slurpee as he spun the tale. In Columbus, Ohio, at a luncheon for Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, he added that Republicans may have been driving distracted – using their BlackBerrys – when they steered the metaphorical economy-car off the road.
Maybe Obama will make an impromptu stop at a 7-Eleven for one of the frozen drinks that come in brightly colored flavors that turn tongues red or blue.
Or maybe, as one staffer joked, his use of the Slurpee to poke fun at Republicans has something to do with first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign against childhood obesity that is trying to reduce Americans’ fondness for sugary drinks.
Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama in Seattle)