After debt deal, Obama takes staff to lunch

AP News
Posted: Aug 03, 2011 2:13 PM
After debt deal, Obama takes staff to lunch

What to do now that the debt crisis is over?

President Barack Obama took some of his hard-working debt warriors out for lunch on Wednesday.

The president rounded up a handful of staff members who have been working almost nonstop for months on the debt issue and headed to Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill.

"It smells pretty good," Obama said as he arrived at the restaurant. "Michelle eats here all the time."

Those who joined him at a rectangular wooden table included Jack Lew, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors. Others in the group were White House Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy Ann DeParle; Gene Sperling, the head of the National Economic Council; and Bruce Reed, chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden.

Obama got some day-early 50th birthday wishes from restaurant patrons, and instructed them to get on with their meals.

"Finish your burgers," he said. And he ordered one of his own, along with fries and a salad.

This being Washington, it turned out that there was also a congressman who was having lunch at another restaurant and stopped in to talk about the deficit battle and Monday's vote.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., called it a "difficult" one.

"I explained to him that I didn't vote with him, but I'm glad that it passed," Butterfield said. "He said that he understood."

Laura Mengelkamp, who was eating lunch with friends, reported that a bunch of people wished the president happy birthday.

"He looked good for 50," said Amber Moyerman.

Obama spent about an hour in the restaurant, then emerged to cheers from patrons at outdoor tables.

But he and the aides left behind a number of milkshakes. "Choose any," he was quoted as saying by Andrew Parker, who sat nearby with his family. "I guarantee this table isn't going to drink them all."