CAMPAIGN NOTEBOOK: Rolls, pizza and deals

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Associated Press

Posted on August 14, 2012 at 10:01 PM

KNOXVILLE, Iowa (AP) — President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney experienced the real economy Tuesday. Obama encountered a temporary product shortage, and Romney, always on the lookout for a deal, saw one at a Little Caesars Pizza shop.

Obama made a quick stop in Knoxville at the Coffee Connection, a coffee shop on the town's square. About 20 people were seated at tables chatting and having morning coffee. Obama greeted them and stepped up to the counter to order a coffee, iced tea, and some muffins and cinnamon rolls.

He turned and offered to buy anyone a coffee or muffin. One patron said he'd take a cinnamon roll. "I just bought the last one," Obama said. "I can get you a muffin."

The owner then realized there were more cinnamon rolls in the back. "You know what, it turns out you're in luck," Obama shouted to the man.

Nearly 700 miles to the east, Romney and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, made an unplanned stop at a Little Caesars Pizza in Cambridge, Ohio. Employees of the pizza shop brought a pizza out to the bus for Romney and his staff. Afterward, the Republican candidate stopped in to take some photos with them, waving the Little Caesars Pizza box in the air.

"It's empty, but you know, thank you!" he said. Then he purchased two more pizzas.

"What do they run?" he asked.

Told they were $5, Romney was surprised.

"Five — they're only five bucks? That's a good price. That's a good deal," he said.

Later, in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Obama stopped in The Pump Haus and Grill for a Bud Light where he chatted up patrons and bought a beer for a customer sitting at the bar.

The bartender offered Obama a beer on the house but the president insisted on paying.

It was a cheaper night than Monday, when a crowd in the Bud Tent at the Iowa State Fair chanted 'four more beers" and Obama had to oblige.

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Vice President Joe Biden was still operating on Monday's schedule on Tuesday.

As he was wrapping up a speech in Danville, Va., he told the crowd that with their support, "We can win North Carolina again."

Danville is near the North Carolina line and Biden campaigned Monday in Durham, N.C.

Many in the enthusiastic crowd of about 800 people at a research center in Danville were willing to overlook his gaffe.

"I just hope when he leaves here he remembers Danville," Mayor Sherman Saunders said.

The city of 40,000 is reliably Democratic, although the surrounding area often votes Republican.

Saunders said Biden campaigned in Danville in 2008.

"I'm just honored and proud he came back to Danville," Saunders said.

Later, Biden got the state right when he addressed supporters in Wytheville, 120 miles away from Danville in southwestern Virginia.

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The Romney campaign is blocking reporters from covering running mate Paul Ryan's first meeting with donors in Las Vegas.

Among those expected at Tuesday night's event at The Venetian hotel was casino owner and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.

The decision to block access marked a break from rules previously established by Romney's campaign. Reporters usually are allowed to cover President Barack Obama's fundraisers when they are held in public venues or when he delivers remarks. But reporters are excluded from Obama question-and-answer sessions with donors.

A Romney aide, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the record, said the event was closed to the media because it was a "finance meeting" instead of a fundraiser.

Ryan attended two Denver-area fundraisers on Monday night at which media coverage also was prohibited.

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The presidency, Barack Obama says, has its little plusses, and sports offer some presidential lessons.

In an interview Tuesday with radio station KXNO in Des Moines, Iowa, Obama was quizzed on his favorite presidential perk.

"The best perk of being the president of the United States is when I go to the airport, I pull up to the plane, I don't have to take off my shoes," he told hosts Keith Murphy and Andrew Downs.

Asked whether his sports experience has any applications in the Oval Office, Obama talked about the importance of team work and how to stay focused and not get distracted. Then he slipped in the knife.

"It also turns out that political reporters are a lot like sports reporters: They've all got opinions even if they didn't play," he said.

Which is more bitter, he was asked, polarizing election politics or the Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers football rivalry?

"I have to say that the difference is that Bears and Packers, they actually are good at what they do," Obama said. "Folks in Congress sometimes don't get things done. I would say that I am more impressed with the Bears-Packers rivalry than I am with some of the stuff that goes on in Washington because a lot of times that stuff is not on the level."

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Associated Press writers Steve Peoples, Matthew Daly and David Pitt contributed to this report.

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