DUBUQUE, Iowa —
"I have exhausted my knowledge of this subject," Carney told reporters peppering him with questions after Obama had mentioned it. "Usually, when somebody hands me a beer, I don't ask how it was made. I just drink it."
Political strategists have long applied a "Who would you rather have a beer with?" test to contests as a shorthand for which candidate is more approachable. But it has been awhile since a real beer drinker occupied the Oval Office. George W. Bush had quit drinking by the time he became president, and Bill Clinton was a light drinker at most.
Discerning Obama's true level of passion for beer is difficult, given that all his recent comments and purchases occurred at orchestrated campaign events. Advisers won't comment on what the president drinks in the privacy of his own home. But they do note that the public references are not new. As far back as 2006, when Obama took one of his first exploratory trips to Iowa, he drank beer for the cameras. He visited countless pubs over the subsequent two years of campaigning. He even presented the prime minister of Ireland with a six-pack of Chicago microbrew.
Obama also drank a White House microbrew on the patio outside the Oval Office with Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer.
In a less illustrious moment, Obama held a "beer summit" in 2009 — a meeting orchestrated between Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley after the two found themselves at the center of a national debate over race in the United States. The dispute arose when Crowley saw Gates breaking into his own home because the front door was jammed and arrested him on charges of disorderly conduct after Gates became agitated. Gates accused Crowley of racism, and Obama said Crowley had acted "stupidly."
At the meeting, Gates drank a Sam Adams Light and Crowley drank a Blue Moon.
Obama had a Bud Light, the same beer that White House staffers provided in a cooler on the press bus rumbling across Iowa this week. Most of the beer was left untouched. It was apparently beneath the standards of the beer lovers who cover the president.
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Washington Post staff writers Philip Rucker and Josh Hicks contributed to this report.