PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The governor of the nation's top cheese-producing state visited the capital of cheesesteaks on Tuesday and ordered two topped with American, skipping the customary Cheez Whiz but avoiding the blunder of a former presidential candidate who was ridiculed for wanting his with Swiss.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told Geno's Steaks owner Geno Vento he's had cheesesteaks with Cheez Whiz in Philadelphia before and would have been dripping the orange goo if he ordered his the usual way.
"That'd be your trademark," Vento, the son of Geno's founder Joey Vento, joked as Walker signed a book filled with autographs of other dignitaries and celebrities who have indulged in the Philly delicacy.
Walker ordered one each from Geno's and rival Pat's King of Steaks, across the street, during a brief campaign swing through the City of Brotherly Love. He's one of 16 Republicans vying for the party's presidential nomination and, true to political form, wouldn't say which cheesesteak was better.
Despite his cheese change-up, Walker still fared better than John Kerry, the former U.S. senator from Massachusetts and current U.S. secretary of state, who ordered Swiss on his cheesesteak during his unsuccessful 2004 run for president.
Walker supporter Tom DiCampli, who was surprised the candidate joined him and a pair of family friends for lunch, said American on a cheesesteak is "not as bad as Swiss."
"Swiss cheese you get thrown out of town," he said.
Stopping for a cheesesteak is a must for any Philadelphia visitor, politicians included. Presidents Barack Obama in 2010 and George W. Bush in 2004 followed tradition and ordered theirs with Whiz.
Walker said he was well aware of Kerry's faux pas.
"Oh, yeah, I heard about the Swiss cheese," Walker said. "I wouldn't be able to eat it if it wasn't with Cheez Whiz or American anyway. Maybe cheddar if they had it, but I'm not supporting Swiss cheese."
Walker's visit, his last scheduled public appearance before events Friday in Iowa, was mostly benign, save for the pair of protesters at Geno's who held lewd signs behind him. A campaign aide stood on a bench and tried to block them.
Walker ate his Pat's steak with a pair of supporters, one in a polo from Rush Limbaugh's EIB network, the other in a Philadelphia Eagles shirt.
They talked sports and their shared conservative views. Walker recalled an inspiring visit to Independence Hall early in his career.
Walker also told them about his friend in Washington who, as a die-hard Eagles fan, dreams of Walker being elected and welcoming the team to the White House after their first Super Bowl win.
"I don't know which odds are better," Walker said.