Obama Picks Bud Light for White House Meeting

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Obama Picks Bud Light for White House Meeting

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama chose Bud Light, while Cambridge, Mass. Police Sergeant James Crowley is likely to opt for a Blue Moon and Harvard University professor Henry Gates Jr. will have a Red Stripe today when they meet at White House to defuse the tensions sparked by the July 16 arrest of Gates by Crowley.

According to reports, Obama went for the safe choice and picked the top-selling beer in the U.S. Political and marketing experts called the pick an easy, non-controversial choice although some American brewers were reportedly not happy that three beers from foreign companies would be served.

Obama invited the police officer and professor to the White House after the president drew criticism in a July 22 news conference for saying the Cambridge police "acted stupidly" in arresting Gates at his home on a disorderly conduct charge, which was later dropped. Following a public outcry critical of his comments on the matter, Obama called Crowley and Gates to invite them to the White House for a beer.

Anheuser-Busch President Dave Peacock said in an e-mail yesterday the St. Louis-based brewer "would be proud if Budweiser, Bud Light or any of our beers are chosen for the White House meeting," according to a Bloomberg News report. Bloomberg News also reported a spokesman for MillerCoors LLC of Denver said while his company would have preferred Obama had chosen Miller Lite, "it’s good news for our industry that beer will be shared for this light-hearted moment."

However, the Wall Street Journal noted all three beers are products of foreign companies. Red Stripe is brewed by London-based Diageo PLC. Blue Moon is sold by a joint venture in which London-based SABMiller has a majority stake. And, Bud Light is made by Anheuser-Busch—which is now known as Anheuser-Busch InBev NV after getting bought last year by a giant Belgian-Brazilian company.

Obama should have a beer from an American-owned brewery, U.S. Representative Richard Neal of Massachusetts wrote in a letter to the president yesterday, reported Bloomberg News. Neal, a Democrat, suggested Boston Beer Co.’s Sam Adams or another local brew.

It will be interesting to see how the meeting affects American’s negative reaction to Obama’s handling of the dispute. According to a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, 41 percent of respondents disapproved of Obama's handling of the Gates arrest, compared with 29 percent who approved. The poll also found the incident and Obama's reaction saturated the public consciousness. As many as 80 percent of Americans said they are now aware of Obama's comments on the matter, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Obama's overall job approval in the poll was 54 percent, down from 61 percent in a mid-June Pew poll.

Be sure to vote in today’s CSNews Online poll at www.csnews.com asking what type of beer you think the president should have chosen to serve.