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The Backstory On Yesterday's Maureen Dowd Column

I wrote about Obama's relationship with the press for our latest issue. One theme that kept coming up when I spoke to reporters who follow Obama was his apparent preoccupation with Maureen Dowd. Here's the relevant passage from my piece: 

These reporters say that Obama is unusually solicitous of Times columnist Maureen Dowd when she materializes on the campaign trail. They recall how he recently sidled up to her on the plane and remarked on her snazzy pair of boots. 

So I wasn't exactly surprised to find this in Dowd's column yesterday: 

I was covered in barbecue sauce, somewhere over Texas, when Barack Obama loped down the aisle of the plane to chat with reporters.

I felt guilty, because I had been covering his speeches urging parents to make their kids give up chips and Popeyes. I hadn’t yet come to grips with the notion of giving up Popeyes when Obama — slender, chewing Nicorette and perfectly groomed in his crisp white shirt — came upon me. I was splattered with so much red sauce it could have been a scene from “Saw IV.” Not only on my face and hands but all over the candidate’s picture in the U.S. News & World Report I was reading.

“It’s on my ear,” he complained, looking down at the magazine.

Feeling cocky after 11 straight wins, he called me “MoDowd” and tweaked me for my many columns suggesting he would need to toughen up to beat the Clinton machine. “She’s trying to give me hair on my chest,” he said mockingly, plucking at his shirt.

You'd be surprised at how much attention these press-plane encounters attract from other reporters...

--Noam Scheiber