March 19th, 2009
12:39 PM ET
5 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. Lynnette H.

    The Republicans are used to Bush. Bush wasn't capable of tying his shoes and chewing gum at the same time!

    Obama is capable of doing quite a few things at once.

    March 19, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  2. Rosalyn

    Can the Republicans find something else to conplain about.. This is crazy.. What ever happen to freedom of speech.. I don't think Duke will make it to the championship game, so what...

    March 19, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. fae

    god forbid the president act like a normal person.
    i get that the economic situation is very important but you can't lose your sense of fun in this life.
    people are just looking for ways to bring him down and it makes those who do look really pathetic.

    March 19, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. 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 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. WANDA NORTH CAROLINA

    Coach K need to get over himself. If President Obama had his Dukies going all the way he would be exhaulting the president on his exemplary selections. But because President Obama has spoken his views and they don't include his team going very far that is no reason to have a slight against him. With the way Duke has played this year they are probably not on alot of brackets to go very far. But it's just an opinion.

    March 19, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. Donna | California

    Republicans... give it a rest. Obviously you don't have enough to do, right? I mean, you seem to be able to spend all your time monitoring what President Obama is doing.

    What have YOU done lately, except complain?

    March 19, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. Joe, Georgia

    I'm amazed that these very busy and important US Senators have the time to whine about the President being interested in the NCAA Tournament. They need to find something constructive to do with their time rather than attempting to undermine every initiative to get this country back on track. The negativism of these Senators and other members of their party are contributing greatly to the lack of confidence of the American public. If you have no constructive solutions to offer for the problems facing the country, simply get away from the microphone.

    March 19, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. Evolve and Learn

    I also think it is okay for Obama to do the brackets. I just think it should not be done in such a public way. I mean yesterday it was on the home page of the whitehouse.gov. The economy is bad and he does have a lot of treasury slots to fill.
    Can't Obama do non business things privately. I.e. swing sets, valentine dinners, friday date night, etc. It is okay because the man is a father and husband, I just think it should be done privately while most of the country is HURTING Big Time...If you think you are not, please don't look at your retirment account ....okay!

    March 19, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. matt

    I have met Senator Cornyn personally and Republican or Democrat, he is simply just a great guy.
    R2010

    March 19, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. Barbara - Atlanta

    Are these GOPs and Coack K crazy? I can't believe what they're saying!!
    I guess Coach will turn down the invitation to the WH if they should win, huh? What a jerk

    March 19, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. SniffMe

    Did he fill out the bracket or just vote present?????

    March 19, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. Laura Boston MA

    I agree with the Senators...and I am a dem. I think too much time is being spent running around the country....going on Jay Leno. Why to try and convince the American people that the budget for 2010 is something all of Congress should back no questions asked.

    Enough is enough, the treasury department needs people, AIG situation needs investigating, Dodd and Frank need to be looked at in their roles as Chairman and the help they gave AIG (Dodd) and Fannie Mae (Frank) both companies where failure pays.

    Again, I voted for the man but I don't like what I have seen so far. Michelle is doing more important things than he is. I could care less who wins March Madness when Washington is experiencing Madness in March, February, January well you all get the picture.

    March 19, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. Jackie in Dallas

    This from the party whose last administration still had open slots in critical areas SIX months into his term? Pot – kettle, guy.

    So now, a President handling two foreign wars he didn't start, an economy that cratered under the previous administration, international financial issues, and a few other "minor" problems like unemployment, bankruptcies, and foreclosures hitting all time highs, does not have the option to take an hour off or a couple of hours off to relax? What about the solid year of vacations President Bush took during his 8 years in office, including the time he frittered away in Crawford as New Orleans was devastated?

    This is typical of the GOP's desire to paint EVERYTHING the President does in the worst possible light. Counterproductive.

    March 19, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. Rosalyn

    Oh wait.. Republicans do not know how to multi-task.. Please learn and stop complaining... That's why the GOP is looking real stupid these days..

    March 19, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. J

    Talk about REAL NEWS!!!!
    WE DO NOT CARE ABOUT THIS GARBAGE!!!

    Real Journalism wanted!!
    Give us news

    March 19, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    I'm a Duke fan thru and thru. But I can't stand republicans.

    LET'S GO DUKE!

    CAMERON CRAZY

    March 19, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  17. Paula

    I agree with all the comments so far. GOP get a clue. Being that I'm Tarheel Born, Tarheel Breed and when I die will be Tarheel Dead, the President's picks are okay with me. Isn't it wonderful to have a President who can multitask.

    March 19, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. susie

    Obama is going to be really mad at that coach. No one is suppose to go against Obama or else they will be in deep trouble. The coach should have kept his comments to himself now he will be ridiculed by the Obama team.

    March 19, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. Joe PA

    You mean he is like the millions of American's who fill these out!!!!! The Nerve!!

    March 19, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  20. Real Talk

    Is this really news. Is this man not allowed to have any personal time. I can fill a bracket out in 5 minutes. What is the difference in this and all the Presidents who have thrown out first pitches. It requires about .001 percent of the time to accomplish. Which is also the same odds of Duke winning it all this year. They need to shut up, stop nit-picking and do there own jobs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 19, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. A Disappointed American

    Why is this news? Obama should be working on being a decent President and repairing the damage don to this country rather than picking the winners of a basketball game. Eliminating the teleprompters would be a good start. Giving back your AIG campaign donation would be a good second and forgoing your salary would be next. Obama, why don't you show America that you really are concerned for America.

    March 19, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. worriedmom

    I would not usually care about a President picking teams and alike but this country is in shambles and with the AIG thing going on, I think it is a very inappropriate time for our President to be jetting around and especially going on a comedy show. He should be in D.C. and letting us know that he is worried and upset on what is going on, instead he is out there in Hollywood mingling with the stars. Come on do you want to be President or a Movie Star?

    March 19, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  23. Bruce

    Pam I was thinking the samething !!!!!!!!! lol

    March 19, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  24. DX in TX

    Cornyn can KMA....

    Obama/Biden
    2008/2012

    March 19, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. Ron

    Can they get any more childish? Tell me, GOP leaders....and what was your solution to this financial mess? Oh yeah....just pretend it didn't exist. And now, Coach K is offended and the GOP is up in arms? FFS

    March 19, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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