The White House today took issue with those taking issue with President Obama’s mockery of the Boston Red Sox last night.
At a fundraiser at Symphony Hall in Boston last night, President Obama – an ardent Chicago White Sox fan — thanked Beantown for their beloved former baseball star Kevin Youkilis, a Gold Glove award winning first baseman nicknamed “Euclis: The Greek God of Walks.”
Youkilis was traded Sunday by the Boston Red Sox to the Chicago White Sox, a sore subject for many BoSox fans.
“I just want to say thank you for Youkilis,” the president told the crowd.
The audience booed good-naturedly.
“I’m just saying,” the president said, rubbing salt in the wounds. “He’s going to have to change the color of his ‘sox.’”
The laughing boo’s continued.
“I didn’t think I’d get any ‘boos’ out of here,” the president said, “but…I guess I shouldn’t have — I should not have brought up baseball. I understand. My mistake. My mistake. You’ve got to know your crowd.”
The crowd laughed at which point a woman in the audience yelled “We still love you!”
The campaign of Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, tried to make hay out of the booing, with campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul this morning calling the incident an “error.”
“Last night in Boston, President Obama went to the heart of Red Sox nation and committed an error by taunting fans over the Kevin Youkilis trade to the Chicago White Sox,” Saul wrote in an email. “And he was booed for it. . . at his own event! The Red Sox have suffered many setbacks over the years – the Babe Ruth trade, the ball through Buckner’s legs, the Bucky Dent home run. Maybe the President should have congratulated the team for winning the World Series in 2004 and 2007. Instead, he chose to mock them for trading away one of its favorite players at a time when the team is struggling.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney raised the subject on Air Force One today. “There’s been some really silly reporting about the President’s remarks regarding Kevin Youkilis last night,” Carney said. “It is highly commendable in my view as a Red Sox fan that this President has always refused to pander on sports. He is a White Sox fan. He owns his fandom of the White Sox, and proved that again last night. And anyone who knows Boston and knows the Red Sox, and who was in that room, knows that the preponderance of people shouting in response to what the President said about Kevin Youkilis were saying ‘Youk,’ not ‘Booo’ for God’s sake.”
Carney reminded the reporters that in 2007, Boston nursing home magnate, Obama donor and current U.S. Ambassador to Spain Alan Solomont urged then-Senator Obama to don a Boston Red Sox cap at Fenway “and he refused to do it, and even mentioned it, because he is a White Sox fan.” Carney said, “I don’t think the American people appreciate it when politicians suddenly pretend they’re fans of another team just to try to curry favor. The President is very serious about his sports. He will not do that. He will not cross that line.”
A Red Sox fan himself, Carney admitted he was “very sad to see Youkilis go. He has a fond place in my heart for all he contributed to two World Series teams.” That said, “the President is not going to pretend he is not a White Sox fan. And if Kevin Youkilis helps the White Sox this year, I’m sure he will circle back to the subject.”