May 9th, 2008
08:55 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama plays Taboo on long flight

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Obama takes a breather on board the campaign plane."]
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.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. atypical white person

    To Reaity KIng:
    Glad I don't live in your "world."

    OBAMA 08

    May 9, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. TJ

    People.. get over the comment about where gay people shop.. it was funny.. stop taking life so freaking serious. Really.. get over yourselves.

    I for one am most certainly not offended. I'm more offended by people being overly sensative to every little syllable utered by peoploe who are normal people.. just like you and I.

    And for the record.. Gap-yes, H&M-yes and A&F-yes... and many others. (The stores I shop in).

    Gay Guy supporting Obama

    May 9, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. Dan (NY)

    The Obama Bashers are right, this is a waste of time story. Look at all of the responses, no one cares (LOL sarcasism there). Why would you bashers even read it if you were not looking for something to complain about.

    You want Elitest, I have always despised the Clinton's they are tried and convicted "CRIMINALS" this is not a disputible fact (travelgate, whitewater, impeachment). But she went to an all time low when she "Bragged" about a single mother giving her last 20$ to her campaign. Yes that sounds like a good story but Clinton has no Idea what it means. I have been and still face those days of having to live on my last $20.00 for a week until until I get paid again.

    How dare she ask for people to dig that deep when she is just now reaching into her own pockets. They are still staying at 5 star hotels. Get real that $20.00 which that women gave could have made go a long way for her and her kids, became simply a tip to a waitress or pizza delivery guy for Clinton and her traveling Circus.

    What are your contributions going to????

    May 9, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  4. An Average Joe

    What's amusing is that many of you probably took a break from your jobs to read this article. Maybe you should get back to the jobs you get paid to do.

    Also, this a blog, not the leading headline of today's papers. It's not very often you get to play a game with a presidential candidate. This reporter probably thought that was pretty cool and thought others might think so too.

    If you think CNN is trying to brainwash you about which canididate to support, it's because you are letting them.

    May 9, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Luis

    What does this have to do with anything........

    May 9, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  6. ChicoSez

    Again, its if you don't vote for Obama, your secretly a racist. I wouldn't vote for a freshman senator to be president if he/she was red, white and blue. He doesn't have the experience it takes. But if you think this article should have even be written, let alone published, you've already drank the kool-aid. Anybody but Obama in 08

    May 9, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. USAF Sr. Airman

    On Clinton's flight, she played Hungry Hungry Hippos, but argued the person with the least marbles should win.

    May 9, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. Amanda & Adrian for Obama

    To Clinton/McCain:

    Seriously?? You think Obama has run a sneaky campaign? Wow, are you stupid. I'm usually not so rude, but I couldn't think of a better way to say it.

    May 9, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. Liz T

    If they really want to relax, they should try Quelf. It is one hilarious game, but perhaps a little too active to play on a plane. One card Obama might draw is to scavenge the plane for things to make a snorkel and then wear it for the rest of the game. Or everyone could be required to shout: "Quelf in the land of the farm!" each time someone lands on red.

    Quite hilarious!

    May 9, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  10. Missy M

    I can't believe I just wasted my time reading this article! CNN, please just report real news. I don't care what games Obama is playing. I don't care what he's wearing. I want to know how he plans to strengthen the economy and improve the business climate if he is elected or when he returns to Congress, whichever is the case.

    May 9, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. Ilona Proud Canadian

    To all of those people who are critical about the Sen. Obama having a few minutes of fun with the average American. This is what I have to say "From The Outside Looking In".. GET A LIFE! Stop looking for problems where there are none.

    Why can't you just be fair and realize that Sen. Obama is having a game of taboo, with the every day average American, because even now when he is heading for the biggest challenge of his life, he can still show that he will always be with the people and for the people!

    I think it is wonderful that he can have a few laughs and relax even for a little while.

    May 9, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. Jane, NC

    Taboo. Or brother. This fellow will be another fake president.

    May 9, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  13. Sharon Minnesota

    That is cool for the President.


    May 9, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. michael

    So Obama thinks peopel who shop at Abercrombie & Fitch are gay that is about the only news i saw in the whole story.

    May 9, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. Interesting

    If anyone think he is really playing a game on board, you are so naive. He is really courting the press and pulling them to work him for the fall.

    May 9, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  16. libby

    finally someone who is a educated, normal, nice, regular person who knows how to relate to everyone. THANK GOD. Unlike the inexperienced bullies we have had for presidents in this country before. Maybe now we will have better foreign policies and a president who will be for ALL the PEOPLE and not just for a few. Somehow I feel real hope for my children for a peaceful world. So sick of the insane creeps we had before.

    May 9, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. farker

    What is this? All this flaming about how he's playing Taboo instead of doing work or how he's unqualified to be President because the press is reporting on him playing games...
    Both Obama and Hillary are out there campaigning wayyyy too many hours per day, day after day. The stress is clearly visible on their faces after months of this kind of thing.
    So yeah, instead of working from the second he wakes up to the second he goes to sleep, Obama played Taboo on his flight.
    Big deal. If you need a president who will never have a fun waking moment throughout their presidency just go build a robot or something.
    Besides, I'm sure Hillary does something similar for fun, biting heads off chickens or devouring souls or whatever she does...

    May 9, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. Uncle Sam

    How is it that those who choose not to vote for Sen. Obama are labelled as racist? I thought we were attempting to move past such old-fashioned way of thinking.

    Americans for McCain '08

    May 9, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  19. Robert

    "by all the states that count"

    I can't stand when people say this! Red state, blue state, or purple state... your support in that state matters. The map isn't permanent.

    If you think you can't win my state because it leans left or right, that's fine – but give me a convincing argument for why I should vote for you and don't write off my state as not mattering.

    May 9, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. jminminn

    Chad: May 9th, 2008 10:46 am ET


    Everyone knows that in order to play taboo, you have to be an eleteist. It almost REQUIRES a proficent knoledge of the english language. I'm tired of all these educated eletes going around playing games like taboo, scrabble, and madlibs.

    Why can't the east coast ivy league leftists play more fundimental games like vote Hillary Cliton, vote John McCain, or how about a good hearted game of Shoot yourself in the foot?
    Everyone knows that elitists don't play Shoot yourself in the foot.

    They play Shoot your friend in the face. Ask Dick Cheney.

    May 9, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
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