On presidential endorsements

The Baltimore Sun

We've been hearing a little about how some pro athletes are jumping on the endorsement bandwagon of one presidential candidate or another.

The fact that top NBA draft pick Greg Oden's endorsement of Barack Obama created so much stir is really indicative of how glaringly inactive athletes have generally been in the political arena.

Oden's support of Obama was accompanied by a similar endorsement by Charles Barkley, but with Sir Charles, the message is sometimes obscured by the delivery (i.e. Barkley following up his backing of Obama by mentioning to CNN's Wolf Blitzer that conservatives are just "fake Christians").

If you haven't been reading Curt Schilling's blog, you may not know that the Boston Red Sox pitcher has made it clear his rooting interest is with John McCain. And former Los Angeles Laker Magic Johnson is a staunch Hillary Clinton booster.

I thought one of the most interesting endorsements came from the grand old man of poker, Doyle Brunson, who is backing Obama. Actually, this broke a few weeks ago when Doyle, known as "Texas Dolly," wrote on his blog Feb. 16:

"I am on this race for president like stupid is on Britney Spears. I have come to the conclusion that poker players have to support Obama. We can't possibly let McCain be our president because he supports most of George W. Bush's views. Hillary has lots of experience but I don't think she is ready to lead our nation."

About a week later, when Obama was picking up momentum, Brunson wrote:

"It looks like it is going to be Obama vs. McCain for president. I think Obama is a cinch to beat McCain where if Hillary was the candidate, it would have been a coin flip. Obama's base is too strong for McCain, which is a good thing. God help the Internet gambling business if McCain does happen to win."

As you can read, what's at the heart of all this is that some poker players are steamed at the GOP because they blame Republicans for pushing through legislation in 2006 that tightened the screws on Internet gambling, including poker. Online card playing was helping drive the poker explosion and providing lucrative revenue streams to the greater poker community (and still does to a lesser extent).

Brunson himself has an online poker room, so his political cheerleading obviously involves a little more personal motivation beyond just handicapping who has the best national health care policy.

bill.ordine@baltsun.com

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