Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sen. Collins: No Food 'Taster' With President Obama, So He Didn't Eat At GOP Luncheon

The Maine lobster, pie, chips and ice cream were a nod to First Lady's healthy eating campaign, said Collins; the President complimented the spread...
President Obama was offered a feast of Maine treats, including University of Maine lobster salad and Wild Blueberry Pie when he visited Senate Republicans for a Capitol Hill luncheon on Thursday.  But he didn't touch a bite, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters following the 1:30 PM eat n' greet.  That's because the President didn't have a food "taster" with him, said Collins, who was responsible for the menu.  (Above, Collins, in green, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell greeted the President as he arrived)

"Unfortunately, you know, the President can’t," Collins said when asked if the Eater in Chief had actually consumed the treats as he huddled with the opposition.

"Apparently he has to have essentially a taster,"  Collins said.  

"I pointed out to him that we were all tasters for him, that if the food had been poisoned all of us would have keeled over."

That line of reasoning didn't convince President Obama, who typically doesn't eat at events outside of the White House.  And when he does, he's accompanied by a military chef from the White House's Navy Mess who doesn't necessarily taste the food, but does oversee the preparation.  Even on Capitol Hill:  There was a Navy Mess chef on hand to monitor the action at President Obama's Inaugural Luncheon.  Last year, Tolan Florence, the wife of celebrity chef Tyler Florence  tweeted (and deleted) messages about a "food taster" for the President at a $20,000/plate campaign fundraiser her husband cooked; that chef was also from the Mess.

And in September of 2012, a Colorado chef/restaurateur told Obama Foodorama about a Secret Service agent positioned in the kitchen as he cooked the President's campaign-trail breakfast.  In October of 2010, Chicago celeb chef Rick Bayliss also noted the presence of a Presidential food taster from the White House when Mr. Obama visited his restaurant

While remaining abstinent, the President "looked longingly at" the lovely spread, Collins said.  The lobster salad, Fox Family potato chips, and Wild Maine Blueberry Pie were a nod to the healthy eating elements of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let's Move! campaign, Collins maintained.

"I pointed that out to the President in keeping with the First Lady’s initiatives and Fox Family potato chips made in Aroostook County where I’m from and wild blueberry pie full of anti-oxidants, see this was a healthy lunch as well," Collins said.

Gifford's Ice Cream from Maine was also added to the menu at the last minute, a PR rep for the company told Obama Foodorama.  The company's two most popular flavors, Old Fashioned Vanilla and Maine Wild Blueberry, were served with the pie. 

"We did have a little ice cream on the pie too, also made in Maine, Gifford’s Ice Cream," Collins said.  "So in all seriousness this was well received."

So well received, in fact, that President Obama complimented the spread.

"He remarked that we have far better food than the Democrats do, and I said that was because I was hosting," Collins said.

The luncheon was the latest in the President's efforts at bipartisan outreach; he's been on Capitol Hill three times this week.  Last week, the President treated a dozen Republican Senators to dinner at the Jefferson Hotel on March 6, and the next day he hosted a White House luncheon for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Ranking Member Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Jr. (D-MD).

The President's bipartisan charm offensive will be put on hold on Friday when he travels to Chicago for an event focusing on energy.

*Photo by Getty/pool