Politicians: they’re just like us. Well, they try.
Eating in public is a burden faced by every politician. When she was running for governor of New York, Cynthia Nixon made the wrong bagel choice (lox on cinnamon raisin), and the internet attacked. Countless politicians have been ridiculed for eating hotdogs and pizza with cutlery. Mitt Romney made the mistake of calling a ‘hoagie’ a ‘sub’ at a Wawa while campaigning in Pennsylvania. Barack Obama was caught using a spoon to eat ice cream out of a waffle cone.
The average American can scarf down a hot dog in peace, but a politician has to do it on camera.
Over the years, notable politicians have stopped in Pittsburgh for a meal, and in the spirit of election season, here are some of the best political meals spotted in the Steel City.
John McCain at Primanti Bros.
On the presidential campaign trail, John McCain popped into the Strip District restaurant in 2008. He was searching for a local “hot spot” to sway undecided voters. Instead of talking to locals, the presidential candidate traveled 2,000 miles and ended up chatting to a family, also visiting, from his home state of Arizona.
He and his wife, Cindy, both ordered cheese steaks. Before the sandwiches were off the grill, McCain chased media from the restaurant, dodging a viral, sauce-dribbling, sandwich-attacking photo.
The Obamas at Pamela’s
Since 2008, the Obamas have nursed a love affair with Pamela’s. While in Pittsburgh campaigning for primaries, the couple stopped at Pamela’s for breakfast. Barack Obama ordered a plain pancake and fell under Pamela’s spell. After eating, he was tossed a few questions, but pancakes took precedence. Before answering, he made sure to tell the press, “these really were maybe the best pancakes I’ve tasted in a very long time. Get some take-out,” as reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Obamas’ love for Pamela’s did not end there. In 2009, at a Memorial Day breakfast in the White House, the family featured Pamela’s pancakes. Owners Gail Klingensmith and Pam Cohen were invited to D.C. to dish out Steel City hotcakes.
Hillary Clinton and Primanti Bros.
On the road for the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton made a stop at Primanti’s in Market Square to eat and talk with local union members. Confident in her ability to neatly eat a giant sandwich, Clinton bravely allowed media to document her meal.
Clinton chose a classic: capicola and cheese topped (of course) with fries and slaw. Her method was poised. She picked up the massive sandwich from its edges and dove in, earning a few cheers of, “Madam President!” from onlookers.
John Kasich at The Oyster House
John Kasich paid a visit to The Oyster House in 2016 during his presidential campaign. The Ohio governor, surrounded by media, campaigned to have his picture put on the wall. But the owner didn’t budge: only presidents are put up on The Oyster House walls.
His meal, a simple fish sandwich, desperately needed a knife (which he loudly proclaimed) and was documented bite for bite. He touched on “Pittsburgh Values” before leaving with this one-liner: “All I wanted to do was come and have a fish sandwich, bro.”