March 19th, 2009
12:39 PM ET
9 years ago

GOP senator backs Coach K on Obama's basketball picks

President Obama did not pick Duke to advance to the Final 4.

President Obama did not pick Duke to advance to the Final 4.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski has become a Republican talking point.

After it was revealed that President Obama left Duke out of the Final Four in his NCAA brackets, Krzyzewski remarked Wednesday that the president should focus more on the economy than on his basketball picks.

Related: Coach K disses Obama's basketball picks

That quip caught the attention of a Republican senator, Lamar Alexander, who summoned up Coach K's comments at a GOP press conference on Thursday.

"The AIG bonuses make the president subject to the charge that he's living above the store but he's not minding it," Alexander told reporters. "He's even found time to fill out his NCAA basketball brackets, which is a healthy thing to do in my opinion."

Alexander continued: "But he picked North Carolina and he caused the Duke coach, our Olympic coach, Coach K, to say, respectfully, you might be spending less time on the brackets, Mr. President, and more time on the economy. I think that's what we'd like to see, with respect."

Alexander's home state of Tennessee is well-represented in the tournament, with four teams having earned bids. And Obama is predicting that one of those squads - Memphis - will return to the Final 4 this year.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn took a much harsher tone Thursday in a floor speech, saying that Obama might want to spend less time making basketball predictions and more time filling the many job openings still at the Treasury Department. Having more hands on deck, he said, might have led to better oversight of the AIG situation.

"I appreciate that President Obama has completed his 'March Madness' Tournament Bracket," Cornyn said. "Yet the organizational chart of his administration still has far too many open slots."

Filed under: John Cornyn • Lamar Alexander • President Obama
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Pam

    Just because Bush was too inept to do more than one thing at once doesn't mean Obama is.

    March 19, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  2. Shucks

    No one cares who the GOP backs. It is news when the new president who is a huge basketball fan weighs in for fun. It is much different that when a GOP senator weighs in for a photo/sound bite op, and does it just to be obstinate.

    March 19, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. Heather in Seattle

    Give me a break! Obama is making the economy his top priority! But apparently the repubs don't think he is entitled to have any outside interest! And come on that coach only made that statement because Obama didn't pick his team to be in the final four.

    March 19, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. Pa Santigie

    Well win or loose, coach K will not be welcomed at the WH.
    I suppose the president should have picked DUKE. How "humble" of him.
    Lets see, only 62 more coaches to voice out their indignation....and we can all see the light of coach K's grumbles.

    March 19, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. Sean from PA

    Coach K, shut up... with respect.

    March 19, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. Jeff

    People maybe should spend less time alternating between "you're doing too much, Pres Obama!" and "Hey, you're not doing enough, Pres Obama!"

    March 19, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  7. Mike

    You have got to be kidding me. The last guy in the Oval Office spent month upon month clearing brush on his ranch, but President Obama spends a half hour making some basketball picks and he's not minding the store?

    Maybe the Republicans mentioned should spend more time trying to fix the disaster that their mix of deregulation and corporate welfare caused and less nitpicking every hour of the President's day.

    March 19, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. babs

    It's called multi tasking. The GOP should try it. oh, wait, it's something you have to be smart to do. nevermind...

    March 19, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Totally ridiculous. Find something SUBSTANTIVE to talk about're just digging your hole deeper.

    March 19, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. ErniePF

    Give me a break. Overpaid college basketball coaches, ranting about economics. Who pays their bloated salaries, again?

    March 19, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. sonja

    Lighten up! It is a game! GOP needs to not "pounce" on every opportunity to slam the prez....they start to look more opportunistic than relevant.

    March 19, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. M.R.

    I agree... give me a break – if legislators don't have anything better to talk about besides Obama's tourny picks, they need to get a life. One minute they are critizing saying he's trying to do too much, now this. I think it took my 11 y.o. son about 15 minutes to fill out his bracket.

    March 19, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  13. Mississippi Mike

    Wasn't it Obama who said that we need to turn away from childish things and avoid distractions because we have so many drastic, important changes to make? I'm not sure whether to categorize publicly filling out basketball brackets and flying across the country to appear on Leno should be counted as distractions or childish things but Obama's not living up to his word right now.

    March 19, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. Andres Guevara

    Gee, where were these guys when Bush was visiting with teams that won championships? I hate it when politicians play such obvious games.

    March 19, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. Mike

    Is this coming from all of those GOP members who were on Twitter during the entire time Obama was speaking to them?

    Give me a break!

    March 19, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  16. Richie


    March 19, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. Jill-IN

    I hope your kidding, right? If not, then you senators are a bunch of duffers. Who could possibly take you seriously!

    March 19, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. David

    Who cares?

    March 19, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. Steve in Louisville

    This just show how lame the GOP has become.

    March 19, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. Cynthia - Arkansas

    It's just for fun, for Pete's sake. Can these people give it a rest for once?

    March 19, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. Paul, Riverside CA


    The GOP is completely out of touch. I appreciate a President that is more like an "Average American" and can take time to do something that he enjoys. BB is our President's favorite sport. Let the man be a fan, and please, GOP, STFU!!!!

    March 19, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. Hank in Norfolk, VA

    OMG this is so ridiculous. I agree with who cares who the GOP backs. Perhaps Senator Alexander spend more time on issues that affect our country or his state, instead of wasting eveyones time discussing his opinion on who Obama back in the NCAA.

    Perhaps the Duke coach should also worry more about his team than who Obama chose.

    March 19, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  23. John

    Th GOP will take ANY opportunity to talk bad about about Obama. It's really kind of pathetic. It makes them look like a bunch of whiny losers.

    March 19, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. Bruce

    Pam you took the words right out of my mouth ,thank you !!!!!!!!

    March 19, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  25. Allan

    This is ridiculous. Alexander seems to think that the Presdent isn't entitled to ever 5 minutes of down time. Remember how much time Bush spent on his ranch cutting brush?? Get a life, Senator. You're losing your credibility.

    March 19, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
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