President Barack Obama popped into the White House’s South Court Auditorium to watch a few minutes of the second half of the USA vS. Belgium World Cup match with about 200 aides and staff, many in team jerseys — a move that reflects Obama’s love of sports as well as how popular soccer has become with Americans.
What Obama said in earshot of his press pool also shows how only-sort-of-jokingly defensive the second-term president has gotten about perceptions about his impact on anything he touches. “I was worried that if I walked in and Belgium scored, I’d be in trouble,” he joked. “I believe that we will win,” Obama and the staff chanted.
Of course, Belgium scored twice in hard-fought overtime, the U.S. only once.
And so, Belgium advanced in the knock-out round of the World Cup that will close on July 13.
And the U.S., which played valiantly, is coming home.
While “Watch the World Cup” didn’t actually appear on the public version of Obama’s daily schedule, he signaled early in the day that it was on the agenda.
“I thought I’d get the Cabinet together this morning, because we all know that America will be busy this afternoon,” Obama told reporters just after 11 a.m. at the start of his meeting with department heads at the White House, adding an enthusiastic, “Go, Team USA!”
The sports-loving president last week watched the USA-Germany match while aboard Air Force One traveling to Minneapolis. He listed only three events on today’s public schedule — his daily briefing, the morning Cabinet meeting and a speech on the economy at 2:20 p.m.
Deputy National Security adviser Ben Rhodes opened his 2 pm session with the foreign press in Washington today by saying he was glad they were able to meet before the 4 pm game. He said that originally his schedule listed the meeting with the foreign press as 4:30pm. That was “a problematic time for me,” he said. “We’ll definitely be watching at the WH – ready for victory,” Rhodes later told Bloomberg’s Indira Lakshmanan on Twitter.
— Andrew Harrer (@drewharrer) July 1, 2014