`A Lot of Houses For Sale,’ Ohioan Advises Obama Working The Room

Photograph by Susan Walsh/AP Photo

President Barack Obama visits the Kozy Corner diner in Oak Harbour, Ohio, on July 5, 2012.

Working a room is good for some laughs.

And sometimes some hard truth.

When President Barack Obama’s campaign bus pulled into Kozy Corners, a cash-only diner in Oak Harbor, Ohio, with daily specials starting at $4.65, he encountered a boy with spiked, blue-tipped hair.

“I like that hair, man,” the president of the United States told the boy. “I was thinking of getting some hair just like it.”

“What do you put in there to make it spiky?” asked Obama, touching the blue-hued hair-do. “Product?”

The spell-bound boy shook the president’s hand.

Inside the diner, accompanied by former Gov. Ted Strickland, Obama greeted a near-capacity crowd (the fire marshal caps the place at 85).

A fourth-grade girl named Sydney showed Obama her sketchbook.

“You’re very talented,” he said, flipping through the drawings.

He inscribed the book: “Dream big dreams.”

He cradled a baby at one table and told a man with his wife at another: “Just do whatever she tells you to.”

Obama greeted five white-haired women, part of a regular pinochle game.

“Tell the truth, the national press is here,” the president said. “Are you playing for money?”

“A dollar or a quarter.”

“I’m not going to take you on, especially now that I know you play for money,” he said.

A boy asked the president to sign a dollar bill, and Obama explained that it’s illegal to sign U.S. tender.

“All right,” Obama told the diner-crowd, “I’m going to eat my burger, and everybody just pretend like I’m not here.”

For all the warmth of his reception, Traci Riechman, an employee of the Ottawa County Juvenile Court, questioned whether Obama would win the town’s vote. “We have a lot of houses for sale,” she said. “It’s just a tough time here in Oak Harbor. I don’t know if the community will be positive or negative.”

 With thanks to Mark Landler of the New York Times for impeccable pool reporting from the bubble.


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