Obama to take Cameron to NCAA tournament game

Talk about getting the royal treatment: President Barack Obama,

an avid basketball fan, is bringing British Prime Minister David

Cameron to an NCAA Tournament game in Ohio, showing off one of

America’s most popular sporting events.

The White House said Obama and Cameron will attend a first round

game in Dayton on Tuesday, part of the official visit to the United

States by the British prime minister and his wife, Samantha.

The trip to the NCAA tournament game is intended to underscore

the special relationship between the two key allies and will

precede a state dinner on Wednesday. Obama and Cameron are expected

to discuss the upcoming NATO and G-8 summits along with the Middle

East, Iran and the global economy.

The trip to Ohio may carry some political significance for

Obama.

Ohio is a longstanding political battleground state and was a

major prize won by Republican Mitt Romney in last Tuesday’s

mega-state GOP primaries. Obama, who carried Ohio in 2008, is

expected to compete feverishly for voters there in this year’s

presidential election.

Britain has been a key U.S. ally on foreign policy matters,

including war in Afghanistan and the bombing campaign in Libya that

led to the removal of Moammar Gadhafi. The White House has said

Obama and Cameron have developed a strong personal bond.

The U.S. and British leaders played pingpong at a London school

last year. Obama regularly plays pickup basketball games and has

talked about his NCAA tournament picks for the past three years on

ESPN.

The tournament’s 68-team field will be announced on Sunday. Last

year, Virginia Commonwealth was one of the teams that played in an

opening round game in Dayton, starting a run that led to VCU’s

appearance in the Final Four.