President Obama made an unannounced stop at Prairie Lights, an independent bookstore in downtown Iowa City, IA, after delivering remarks on health care reform legislation. "Well, this used to be my favorite place," Obama told the owner as she showed him around. He stopped and noticed two recent releases --Karl Rove's book Courage and Consequence" and former presidential contender Mitt Romney's "No Apology," then asked pool reporters "What do you think guys?" He purchased neither.
This touched off a flurry of Twitter messages among political rivals beginning with White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton's tweet "Even at the bookstore, POTUS reaches across the aisle." Romney responded, "Mr. President, I think you should read both" causing Rove to also chime in "Mr. President, I think you should read both."
The president did buy "Journey to the River Sea" by Eva Ibbotson and "The Secret of Zoom" by Lynne Jonell for his two daughters. He also picked up the tab for a Star Wars pop-up book for White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' son Ethan. Gibbs said, "It's a little pricey sir but it's a good book" to which his boss quipped, "I can handle it...It's for keeping his dad away for too many hours a day." Heeding his advice to Americans not to accrue debt, the president did not use a credit card but took out five twenty dollar bills to pay for his purchases. Obama has said in interviews that he misses anonymity and while browsing the shelves he remarked to customers that his job no longer allows him to mosey around bookstores. Upon leaving the president thanked the cashier and said, "You have a wonderful bookstore," adding that he hoped that his legislative victory will help Americans. "It'll be a little easier to make sure everybody has health insurance while they're working."