From NBC's Mike Viqueira
Obama was a very popular figure on the Democratic side of the US House today.
He strode onto the floor during a vote when the place was packed and was immediately greeted by wave after wave of Democratic well-wishers, both Clinton supporters and Obama supporters alike, as well as undecideds.
Escorted by Rep. Steve Rothman, who served as a kind of body man, Obama first made his way along the back aisle where he shook hands and slapped backs. One member, Tim Ryan, snapped a picture with a cell phone. Pages rushed over and asked for autographs.
After running the initial gauntlet, he ended up in a place called "The Murtha Corner," where for years Rep. John Murtha has held court with cronines during votes. At first, Murtha -- a Clinton man -- appeared not to see Obama as the senator stood not two feet away greeting well-wishers. Obama was compelled to put a hand on his shoulder, at which point Murtha rose and offered a hearty smile. The two men then engaged in an extended conversation.
Dozens of Democrats maneuvered to greet him. When Obama came to undecided Rep. Jack Spratt, the senator greeted him by literally bending his knee in a kind of modified genuflect. Around that time Obama and undecided Jason Altmire had a relatively long chat.
Meanwhile, down in the well and on the dais, the House was in procedural gridlock. Republicans were objecting to the way a meaningless motion was conducted. For a few long moments, the place came to a standstill as the parliamentarians tried to sort it out and floor leaders sought a resolution. As the dispute played out, the guy who is running on a platform of changing just this sort of bickering in Washington was in the Democratic aisles doing his thing.
Upon emerging, he posed for a picture with several House pages on the grand staircase, under an enormous mural depicting the Constitutional Convention of 1789.
Afterwards, Obama tried to tell reporters that he wasn't there campaigning. It was an important point, because doing so in the Capitol and especially on the House floor, which is still considered sacrosanct in this regard, would be a violation of the rules.
"I was there giving an update to my supporters," he told a clot of reporters who mobbed him as he walked through Statuary Hall on his way back to the Senate side. "I wasn't campaigning; I was saying hello." Which is why he was bowing to Spratt, one imagines.
Asked what Republicans had to say to him on the floor, he said, "They were impressed with my jump shot."