March 13, 2012

Barack Obama greets David Cameron with Air Force One and hot dogs (VIDEO | 15 PICS)

DAYTON, Ohio: British Prime Minister David Cameron skipped aboard Air Force One Tuesday and chomped on a hot dog alongside President Barack Obama at the start of his official visit to the United States.

Obama gave Cameron an initiation to life on the US side of the Atlantic by whisking him away to Ohio to watch the first game of the annual NCAA college basketball tournament, in a bid to showcase the bond between the two men. 

It was the first time this president had invited a foreign leader on his iconic blue and white jet, and a White House aide said they two men spent the entire flight cloistered in Obama's mid-air office. 

Cameron, at his first basketball game, sat courtside with Obama, who appeared to be explaining the rules of the game that he loves. 

The British leader said he saw some similarities to soccer, with the way players marked opponents and tried to score on the break. 

But he admitted that he was puzzled by the frequent infringements that led to free throws. 

Credit crunch: Cameron bites a hot dog
"It's very fast ... it's hard to follow sometimes exactly who has done what wrong," he admitted in a joint televised half-time interview with Obama on the Tru network, which was carrying the game. 

Obama joked that he would ask Cameron, who will will be at the White House for formal talks on Wednesday and a state dinner, to teach him cricket. 

"I thought it was going to be wonderful for the prime minister to have a chance not only to see a basketball game for the first time, but also to come to the great state of Ohio," Obama said. 

"Sometimes when we have foreign visitors they are only visiting the coasts ... they go to New York, they go to Washington, they go to Los Angeles, but Ohio is what it is all about." 

Cynics in the US press have wondered whether Obama has an ulterior motive with the trip, eyeing press coverage in a crucial swing state most analysts believe he must win to capture a second term in November's election. 
Barack Obama honours David Cameron as Afghan crisis talks start

Playing politics: How leaders might look if they were playing ball themselves
Cameron also took the time in the interview to put in a plug for the London Olympics, starting at the end of July. 

"We are very excited about it. We are going to be rolling out the carpet for the whole world ... Everything is on time, on budget, all the stadia are built, we are ready to go," he said. 

Though the game, between two of the worst teams in the "March Madness" tournament, attracted two world leaders, it was not a great advert for college basketball. 

After a scrappy first half, Mississipi Valley State led Western Kentucky 23-19, prompting the US leader and part time basketball analyst to remark that both teams were shooting "terribly."

Nothing like polo or croquet: Obama runs through the rules of basketball
Heads up: Players go for the ball in flight as the leaders look on

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