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Obama praises hoops, inventors in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- President Obama sure loves those Buckeyes.

At the last stop of his four-state tour touting his energy policies, President Obama made several personalized overtures to the residents of this key swing state, which he won by a slim 51-47 percent margin in 2008.

Speaking in a cavernous gymnasium at Ohio State University here, the president almost immediately cheered the Buckeyes' No. 2-seeded basketball team in their game tonight although he did insist he did it strictly on the merits of the team, rather than any other ulterior political motives.

“I did have the Buckeyes heading to the Final Four,” Obama said. “And I promise you, I didn’t do it because I knew I was coming here, because I am cold-blooded when it comes to filling out my brackets,” he joked.

Obama also gave honorable mention to those other Ohio teams in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen -- there are valuable votes in the rest of the state too, after all.

“You’ve got Ohio State, Ohio University, Xavier… Xavier is in… Cincinnati,” he said, as the crowd booed loudly. (Ohio State plays another in-state team, the University of Cincinnati tonight.)

Obama also praised the ingenuity of Ohioans, making special note in a routine campaign line that the state was breeding ground for some of the country’s most innovative minds.

“We are inventors; we are builders; we're makers of things,” Obama said. “We're Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers and Steve Jobs… By the way, the Wright Brothers are from Ohio,” he continued.

And he didn’t leave the stage before making Ohio State’s trademark “O-H-I-O” signal with his arms, similar to the “Y-M-C-A” dance, as the crowd chanted, “Four more years!” as they have at other events the White House deems strictly apolitical.

Despite his fondness for the locals here, there was one Buckeye that the president seemed less than enamored with: a heckler, brandishing a book he wanted the president to read, whom Obama engaged with directly.

“Excuse me, sir,” he said sharply. “Show me some courtesy. I’ll be happy to take your book, but don’t interrupt everyone else,” he continued as the crowd cheered and carried the heckler’s book to the front of the stage, as he was escorted out of the event site by police.