Arts, Culture & Media

NCAA Tournament 2012: Obama brings British PM to watch first basketball game

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U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron attend the NCAA men's college basketball tournament game between Mississippi Valley State and Western Kentucky in Dayton, Ohio, March 13, 2012. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Reuters.)

President Barack Obama Tuesday night showed off that he's as much of an NCAA basketball fan as the next American, bringing his fellow world leader, British Prime Minister David Cameron, with him as he took in the opening game of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Western Kentucky defeated Mississippi Valley State 59-58 to send Western Kentucky onto the field of 64 teams that comprise the bracket that most Americans are familiar with filling out.

According to Reuters, the trip to Dayton was intended to show off one of the most popular sporting events and to underscore the "special relationship" between the U.S. and the U.K.

Obama and Cameron Watch Basketball Game
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"Obama chatted with fans and leaned toward Cameron at times, explaining aspects of the game," Reuters reported.

According to the Associated Press, the two enjoyed hot dogs and Cameron drank a Coke while the two watched the game. In an interview with TruTV, which broadcast the game, Obama said Cameron was going to return the favor by teaching him cricket.

The match, though, was about more than cementing relations with the Brits. Ohio, where the game was played, is considered a top toss-up state for the 2012 presidential election. If Obama is to win re-election, he'll need to win states like Ohio — a state he carried in 2008.

"In a courtside interview with sportscaster Clark Kellogg, Obama said he wanted to take Cameron to 'the great state of Ohio,' noting that many foreign leaders only get the opportunity to visit coastal cities like New York, Washington and Los Angeles," the AP wrote. "'The heartland is what it’s all about,' Obama said."

Cameron and Obama are set to continue the rest of their visit with more weighty issues, including discussions of the economy, trade and the war in Afghanistan in advance of the NATO and G-8 summits in May.