DENVER – Presidential meet and greets rarely veer off script.
There’s lots of hand shaking, back slapping and picking up babies. You know, predictable stuff.
So what happened when Barack Obama went to Denver on Tuesday was truly bizarre.
There were beers a-plenty, a photo op with a gorilla statue and an offer to light up.
It all started on the trip from the airport to downtown.
The presidential motorcade passed a bearded man holding a sign: “Free weed 4 Obama.” A sign outside a marijuana dispensary offered the same thing. Colorado recently passed a law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.
By the time he sat down at a pizza joint with people who had written him letters, Obama loosened his blue tie and rolled up his sleeves.
They sat him down at the head of a table crowded with plates and pizza trays – a teacher, a couple who own a small business, a college student, and a furniture store worker.
“Where do you all want me?” said the President.
“Right at the head of the table.”
“Oh my goodness, that’s so formal.”
Later, he walked down the streets of downtown Denver, giving fist bumps, shaking hands and slapping high fives. He refused a selfie and resisted holding a cute baby.
But he did find himself shaking hands with a man in a horse mask.
“One onlooker wore a large horse head,” the pool report on the visit said, “but it’s unclear what message he hoped to convey.”
He stopped to talk with a father and son. The boy said he was a skateboarder.
“I see you got a little scab here,” the President told him.
“You got scuffed up a little bit. That’s alright. If you’re 10 and you don’t have a scab you’re not having fun.”
Obama then went to a bar that Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper used to own.
A woman stopped the President. “My brother died in Afghanistan four years ago,” she told him.
Obama gave Kalynne May Arrick, from Tyler, Texas, whose brother Marine Sgt. Kenneth May was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, a challenge coin usually reserved for veterans, who collect them.
He hugged her.
“I’m so sorry,” he said.
As the night went on, there was pool playing and beer drinking with Hickenlooper.
“Did you see how many balls he still has on the table?”
Hickenlooper had five, while the President sunk the 8-ball.
A patron offered to buy the President a beer.
“It’s too late man. I just got one,” Obama said.
And apparently, there was another offer — to partake in some weed.
“Do you want to hit this?” said a man, which he then posted on Instagram. The caption? Asked him if he wanted a hit of pot…he laughed!”
But the party didn’t end there.
The President also fist bumped a gorilla statue.
Wednesday was just the first night of a three-day presidential road trip. The focus is the economy and what the White House is doing to help American workers.
The next stop for the President is Texas.
What can the Lone Star State possibly do to top one night in Denver? Immigration reform probably isn’t going to do it.