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BINGHAMTON — As President Barack Obama began day two of his upstate New York bus tour Friday, he made two previously unannounced stops designed to show his common touch.
The president, after spending the night in a Holiday Inn in Auburn (west of Syracuse), hit the local YMCA at 8 a.m. for a workout before getting on the road. During the workout, people milled about outside the back of the Y, stepping out of their offices and houses with coffee mugs in hand to get a glimpse of Obama. When he left the gym shortly before 9 a.m., cheers went up.
The caravan then drove through Skaneateles where residents lined the streets to wave to the president’s bus. Skaneateles is the Finger Lakes village where President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton vacationed in 1999 just as she was launching her U.S. Senate campaign.
At little while later, the bus made an unexpected detour in Tully, just south of Syracuse¸ for a surprise visit at high school soccer practice with the boys and girls squads.
“I was driving by and I thought … I’d like to kick the ball around a little bit,” Obama said.
The president talked to the girls’ team first, then the boys.
He tried to start a little trouble: “Can you guys beat the boys?” Obama asked the girls, and one said, “Oh definitely.”
Obama also talked about the scenic ride he had between Auburn and Tully, saying he knew the area would have a lot of dairy farms, but he seemed surprised to see crops as well.
“I didn’t realize,” he said. “As I was driving in, there’s actually, there’s some decent corn around here,” Obama said, then heard from the girls about how their town has a Family Dollar but no large grocery store.
“I’m assuming everybody here is going to want to go to college,” he said — working in the theme of the tour: college affordability. “So, part of what we want to do is make sure that whatever school you decide to go to that you can afford to do it and you can get grants and loans and you don’t end up having too much debt.”
Obama singled out one girl: “You don’t look like you’re in junior high school,” he said to a young girl, Julia, who is 9. Meeting the president, she had said earlier today, was on her bucket list.
“Here’s a general rule,” Obama said. “When you’re 9, you don’t need a bucket list,” and the girls laughed. “When you get to be 52, then you might want to draw one up.”
With the boys, Obama took a soft pass from one of the players, caught up to it and played with the ball for a couple of seconds (to oohs) before passing it back to the team. He headed out by 11 a.m.
With pool reports