Sox fan Obama ‘pleased to see the Chicago Cubs play so well’
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WASHINGTON — With his beloved White Sox out of contention, President Barack Obama is rooting for the Cubs.
Obama will be in Chicago from Friday through Sunday, so he will be around for the two Cubs playoff games, but a Wrigley Field stop wasn’t on his calendar as of Wednesday.
He’s making a very rare weekend visit to headline three mega-dollar fundraisers for Hillary Clinton, Tammy Duckworth and the House Democrats. Early voting has started in Illinois, and Obama may also be casting his ballot.
When it comes to Chicago baseball, politics go on the presidential back burner.
The GOP members of the Cubs-owning Ricketts family are plowing at least a million dollars into a drive to elect Donald Trump. The Ricketts Democrat — daughter Laura — is a mega fundraiser for Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Last year, Obama was for the Cubs during their playoff run, since the Sox were already done for the season.
I asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest about Obama and the Cubs at the Wednesday briefing. Obama is a die-hard Sox fan. Less known: He has a mixed marriage. Michelle grew up on the Cubs.
“Well, the president is a loyal Chicago White Sox fan,” replied Earnest, taking a sip from his Kansas City Royals cup.
“And in his mind when it comes to evaluating baseball teams, that’s the team that comes first. But the president is also a champion of his hometown. And he certainly has been pleased to see the Chicago Cubs play so well this year.
“It’s been a long time coming, and Cubs’ fans have been waiting a long time for a team that looks like this. And there’s a reason that they are considered by just about everybody the favorites to win the World Series,” he said. “But you know, this is — the playoffs and baseball are exciting. And I know the president is looking forward to tracking their progress through the playoffs.”
I asked Earnest whether Obama will go to a Cubs game and about the Trump-backing Ricketts wing.
Referring to Laura Ricketts, Earnest said, “Well I know there’s at least one member of the family that’s a pretty enthusiastic supporter of President Obama. But I’m confident that the political leanings of the team’s ownership would have no impact on the president’s decision to attend a game.
“The president’s talked about how much fun he has had taking in games at Wrigley Field in the past. The vast majority of those were before anybody knew they were sitting next to somebody famous when he attended.
“But I am not aware currently of any plans that the president has when he travels to Chicago to go to Wrigley Field. But if that changes, we’ll obviously let you know.”
The White House routinely does not say ahead of time if Obama will attend a sporting event.
When it comes to baseball, Michelle Obama has described the Obama household as a “mixed marriage.” She grew up a Cubs fan, even though she was raised on the South Side.
On April 26, 2012, a young White House visitor asked her, “Are you as big of a White Sox fan as your husband?”
She replied, “No, I’m not as big a fan because I grew up a Cubs fan. We’re a mixed marriage. And people always wonder, well, ‘Why are you a Cubs fan?’ because we live on the South Side. But I tell them, my dad was a Cubs fan from the time I was little. And that’s one thing that he and I did when I would come home from school, the Cubs would be playing; they’d usually be just in the third inning by the time I got home from school at 3:30 p.m., and José Cardenal would be third man up to bat, and we’d sit and we’d watch the game.
“So there’s sort of a sentimental connection that I have with the Cubs because of my dad. So I’m kind of always a Cubs fan. Although as a Chicagoan, I love all of our teams. We’re on record there.”
Last month, Laura Ricketts made a display of poking her Trump-backing family members by wearing a Hillary Clinton hat to a Cubs game.
On Wednesday, she told me in an email, “As you saw when I wore my Hillary hat, my family has diverse views and so do the families of Cubs fans. But when it comes to this team, we set aside politics and root together for a Cubs World Series Championship. We’re glad the president is now rooting for the First Lady’s favorite team and I’m delighted to support a Cubs fan to be our next president.”
Obama hosts championship teams at the White House. The Blackhawks have been feted by Obama three times after Stanley Cup wins. In 2011, Obama did a make-good with the 1985 Bears Super Bowl team after their visit was canceled following the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
So consider — if the long suffering Cubs were to advance to the World Series — and clinch — there’s still time for Obama to host the team at the White House.Tweets by @lynnsweet