SIOUX CITY | President Barack Obama surprised fans gathered in a sports bar on the opening day of football for the major tri-state universities, picking up a pizza and chatting up people in an unscheduled event Saturday afternoon.
En route from Sioux Gateway Airport to a Morningside College outdoor event, the 19-vehicle motorcade pulled off at Bob Roe's Point After, 2320 Transit Ave. The president, staffers and a slew of media members walked in the back door, and the president ended up spending 45 minutes at the sports bar.
As he opened the door, a whoop was heard.
"Nice to see you. How you all been?" the president said near the bar area.
He moved through the restaurant and said, "I didn't mean to cause a fuss, but I've got a pizza coming."
Many televisions were carrying college football games, with most tuned to the Iowa Hawkeye contest with Northern Illinois. The president moved from table to table, posing for photos, but many people kept taking in their favorite game.
Obama greeted a military veteran, then talked with the family of Craig and Lori Baldwin, including son Clay, from Moville, Iowa. They don't normally go to Bob Roe's to watch football, but Lori Baldwin said they didn't have the ESPNU channel at home.
"Thanks for coming, " Clay Baldwin said after snapping a picture.
A few seconds later, a man yelled, "Oh, come on!" On a screen, a play unfolded in which Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois scored on a 73-yard play. Obama finally looked up at the screen to see him complete the final 10 yards of the play, and NIU moved ahead 17-9.
As a replay aired, the president said, "Sorry about that play. I don't want to be associated with that play."
Obama took pictures with three men in Hawkeye garb and said, "This is my offensive line, here."
Obama chatted briefly with Leisa Stapp, of Moville, a big fan of Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate on the ticket with John McCain in 2008. When Palin appeared at Barnes & Noble Booksellers for a book tour in December 2009, Stapp was first in line for autographs after having camped out in freezing weather.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who accompanied the president, took pictures of several Stapp family members.
Obama took a picture with owner Bob Roe midway through the appearance, thanking Roe for letting him stop in. As he departed just after 5 p.m., an aide carried out a large pepperoni pizza, and Obama shook hands with many of the 40 people gathered outside the front entrance.