Pittsburgh Steelers legend Jerome "The Bus" Bettis joined Barack Obama for the first leg of a Pennsylvania bus tour this afternoon, riding from a campaign stop in Pittsburgh to a steel mill in Braddock and mingling with plant employees during a break. Ex-Steeler Franco Harris -- who caught the "Immaculate Reception" in a 1972 NFL playoff game -- joined them to kick off the tour. The three of them waved "Terrible Towels" before leaving the first campaign rally of the day.
Politicians in western Pennsylvania could certainly do worse for photo ops than the image local TV networks caught of Obama hugging Bettis -- who led the Steelers to the Super Bowl before retiring in 2006 -- outside the mill, even if some of the steelworkers at the plant seemed more excited to see Bettis than Obama. (It's a long tradition in Pennsylvania elections -- Al Gore stopped by a Steelers practice late in his 2000 campaign against President Bush, throwing a few passes to players.) If Obama, who trails Hillary Clinton in polls here, pulls off a come-from-behind victory, Steelers fans will surely credit the two team legends for the win.
Harris is on Obama's state leadership council and has been active in Democratic politics for years. Bettis, though, seems to be a more recent partisan -- federal records show he gave $2,000 to President Bush's reelection campaign in December 2003.