By Justin Sink
President Obama, an avid basketball fan, is looking to capitalize on March Madness by wooing supporters to his campaign.
Obama has launched a "bracket challenge" on his campaign website that allows supporters to predict their choices for how the NCAA college basketball championships will play out.
"It's college basketball time again — and as friends and co-workers gather around the water cooler to talk top seeds and Cinderellas, here's your chance to fill out a bracket with the President himself," a posting on the campaign's website reads. "And how's this for bragging rights: we'll publish a list of everyone who does better than the President here on BarackObama.com after the tournament is over."
British Prime Minister David Cameron will also take part in the uniquely American springtime tradition during his trip this week, appearing with Obama for a live interview during halftime of the opening game of the tournament. The heads of state will appear during halftime of the Mississippi Valley State and Western Kentucky University game from Dayton, Ohio for their lone joint interview during Cameron's visit.
This will be the second consecutive year Obama grants an interview during the NCAA tournament; last year he famously played one-on-one with CBS broadcaster Clark Kellogg during his appearance. The president has also regularly made an annual appearance on ESPN to fill out his March Madness bracket, often drawing criticism from conservatives.
“Millions of Americans will be filling out a bracket this week, but only one of them is responsible for signing a federal budget, monitoring the crisis in the Middle East and assisting with a major humanitarian effort in Japan,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski in a statement critical of the president's bracket telecast last year.
The president notably predicted that he would win reelection while talking hoops with ESPN columnist Bill Simmons earlier this month.
Simmons asked the president if he was guaranteeing a win — and a White House visit — for his hometown NBA Chicago Bulls.
"Well, I’ve got another five years here and somewhere along the line my Bulls are going to come through here. Absolutely," Obama said.