Campaign Notebook: The President, the Press and the Peach

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JIM WATSON / AFP / GettyImages

President Obama smiles as he departs the Bergman Orchards Farm Market in Port Clinton, Ohio, July 5, 2012, where he made an unannounced visit to speak with supporters while on a bus tour of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Port Clinton, Ohio

Just a few miles from Lake Erie, Bergman Orchards is a roadside storefront with the slogan “Acres and acres of farm fresh fruits and vegetables” painted on an inside wall. The side of the building says “since 1946” and “established 1859” leaving its actual date of incorporation a bit of a mystery. The sales staff wears T-shirts that say “Take a peach to the beach.”

President Obama arrived unannounced, greeted under a large tree by a small group. He proceeded to greet about two dozen people who had lined up in front of the peaches, strawberries, melons, corn and other produce. Watermelons cost $4.99. Cantaloupe cost $2.35.

Reporters overheard nothing special in the receiving line, as the President alternated his standard greetings: “It’s nice to meet you…Nice to see you…Hi how are you…What’s your name?”

Before finishing the line, staffers informed reporters that Obama planned to buy sweet corn, which he proceeded to do. When asked if he planned to bring the corn back to the White House, Obama said, “I am thinking we are going to be eating some over the weekend. I’m just trying to count how many folks we will have.”

At first he said he wanted to buy an entire basket of corn, but then a Bergman employee told him that was about three dozen cobs. “I’ve only got six people,” Obama said, so he bought a dozen, priced at $4.95. “Beautiful corn,” he continued. “And what I am thinking is some peaches.” Then he headed over to the peaches, followed by a couple dozen journalists and staff. Half pecks of peaches cost $7.50.

Obama asked the press if anyone wanted a peach. A reporter said he would would not want to accept a peach without paying for it, lest it be considered a bribe for good coverage. “You think a peach and I get a better column?” he responded, laughing skeptically. He did not buy peaches  for the press.

But someone did knock over some cherries, and the President offered to buy those. “Just put them in a bag and we will wash them up,” he said. The total, with some last minute strawberries, came to $22.70. “That’s a pretty good deal right there,” Obama said. “You do know that we have some corn in the White House garden?”

And with that, staffers ushered away the reporters, no more than 15 minutes after arriving.

Ed. note: This is a lightly edited version of Michael Scherer’s pool report from Ohio, where he is travelling with the President.