WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Talk about getting the royal treatment: President Barack Obama, an avid basketball fan, is bringing British Prime Minister David Cameron to an NCAA Tournament game in Ohio, showing off one of America’s most popular sporting events.
The White House said Obama and Cameron will attend a first round game in Dayton on Tuesday, part of the official visit to the United States by the British prime minister and his wife, Samantha.
The trip to the NCAA tournament game is intended to underscore the special relationship between the two key allies and will precede a state dinner on Wednesday. Obama and Cameron are expected to discuss the upcoming NATO and G-8 summits along with the Middle East, Iran and the global economy.
The trip to Ohio may carry some political significance for Obama.
Ohio is a longstanding political battleground state and was a major prize won by Republican Mitt Romney in last Tuesday’s mega-state GOP primaries. Obama, who carried Ohio in 2008, is expected to compete feverishly for voters there in this year’s presidential election.
Britain has been a key U.S. ally on foreign policy matters, including war in Afghanistan and the bombing campaign in Libya that led to the removal of Moammar Gadhafi. The White House has said Obama and Cameron have developed a strong personal bond.
The U.S. and British leaders played pingpong at a London school last year. Obama regularly plays pickup basketball games and has talked about his NCAA tournament picks for the past three years on ESPN.
During a recent event with grassroots donors who won a sweepstakes to dine with him, Obama was asked what he who he would like to work for other than himself.
“I’d be starting point guard for the Chicago Bulls,” Obama joked before unveiling his backup idea. “I think that ship has sailed, so that’s probably not going to happen. But I wouldn’t mind being on Sports Center. You know, do the top 10 plays?”
The tournament’s 68-team field will be announced on Sunday. Last year, Virginia Commonwealth was one of the teams that played in an opening round game in Dayton, starting a run that led to VCU’s appearance in the Final Four.
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