SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WASHINGTON, DC AND PORTLAND, OREGON (CNN) – What's the best way to kill time on a five-hour flight? If you ask Barack Obama, he might suggest you play the game 'Taboo.'
The popular word game has recently become a staple among the traveling press corps as a way to pass time, and Thursday night's cross-country flight proved to be too much for the Illinois senator, as well—he came back for press vs. campaign staff match-up just a short while after takeoff.
In 'Taboo,' players - six on each team in this case - shouting clues at teammates in the hopes they'll quickly guess the word printed on a card.
The White House hopeful downplayed any expectations people may have had of his skills by repeating that he was going up against "wordsmiths" who have the kind of vocabularies that would, he said, give them an edge.
So it began - but not without the use of a few campaign-related clues.
Take the card with "California" printed on it, for example. To elicit that specific word as a response from his team, one reporter said it was "where Sen. Obama said his 'bitter' comments." Sen. Obama, meanwhile, stood just inches away. He laughed and told the group he came back to get away from politics.
The central rule of the game is that players are given a list of words or phrases they aren't allowed to use as clues - if someone on the opposing team notices this rule broken, he or she uses a battery powered alarm, and the opposing team gets the point.
When it was his moment to dish out the hints, a competitive Obama turned to one reporter and jokingly advised that they not "buzz" him because if they did he would limit their access on the trail.
An interesting moment came when an Obama staffer was looking at the word "gap." His clue: a place where gay people shop. Before the word was accurately guessed, other reporters said they heard one staffer shout the store "H&M" and heard Obama say "Abercrombie & Fitch."
As his turn progressed, Obama tried to coach his team to the hidden word by saying it was something "Thomas Jefferson called for" every now and then.
After that attempt left mostly puzzled looks, he admitted the hint may be "too obscure," so he switched gears, saying it was a song by The Beatles.
Only then did his team guess correctly: "revolution."
After two games, the final score was not something for the journos on board to brag about: Team Obama 2, Press 0.