Broccoli: Presidential pros and cons

While just one remark by President Obama of his love of broccoli Tuesday made headlines, another president mentioned the green veggie more than 50 times while in office — more than any other West Wing resident.

When asked what his favorite food was by a young journalist at the Kids’ State Dinner on Tuesday at the White House, — which featured 54 children who won a contest to submit healthy recipes — Obama replied, “broccoli,” according to a press pool report.

Former President George H.W. Bush’s distaste for broccoli was well known throughout his years in the White House. But according to a new report from the University of Minnesota’s non-partisan political news site Smart Politics, the ex-commander-in-chief reiterated he was not in the floret’s fan club on a whopping 70 occasions.

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The first instance of Bush’s Broccoligate came at a 1990 news conference, when he joked that staffers at the Office of Personnel Management would get merit pay “in broccoli.”

Smart Politics writes, “He was then asked by a journalist if he had ‘lost the broccoli vote’ to which he replied: ‘Now, look, this is the last statement I'm going to have on broccoli. There are truckloads of broccoli at this very minute descending on Washington. My family is divided. I do not like broccoli.’”

Bush added, “And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid, and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli. Wait a minute. For the broccoli vote out there, Barbara loves broccoli. She's tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So, she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that's coming in from Washington.”

After that, the broccoli wheels were off, with Bush seemingly never missing a chance to diss the iron-filled food.

He said at a fundraiser later that year, “You know how I feel about raising taxes: I'd rather eat broccoli for breakfast.”

No other president has touched Bush’s broccoli mention count. Both former Presidents Reagan and Clinton only spoke of the vegetable once, while former President George W. Bush referenced broccoli eight times, which Smart Politics notes was mostly in reference to his dad’s aversion to it.