ALEXANDRIA, Virginia With his wife and daughters already in Hawaii for the holidays, President Barack Obama took his dog Bo shopping on Wednesday as he waited for congressional leaders to mop up a payroll tax mess that has kept him in Washington.
Obama travelled with Bo, and an entourage of aides, Secret Service agents, doctors and reporters, to a Northern Virginia strip mall to buy treats for the three-year-old Portuguese Water Dog featured on the White House holiday cards this year.
Bo accompanied him to PetSmart, where the dog made friends with a brown poodle named Cinnamon.
"Okay, Bo, don't get too personal here," Obama told the dog. He deposited Bo in the car before stopping by Best Buy for Apple gift cards and Nintendo Wii video games for his daughters, including "The Sims 3: Pets" and "Just Dance 3."
"The girls beat me every time on these dance games," he told reporters, joking that he would never let his picture get taken while dancing.
His total came to just under $200, and he told the cashier: "Let's see if my credit card still works," which it did.
The next stop was at Del Ray Pizzeria in Alexandria, Va., where the president bought three pizza pies. He shook hands with supporters to shouts of "I love you, President Obama," although a 50-year-old man said he disagreed with the Obama administration's decision to delay approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oilsands crude from the western Canadian province of Alberta to Texas.
Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama left for Hawaii on Friday and the president has delayed his trip to join them as a result of a political impasse over extending payroll tax cuts that are set to expire December 31.
He called Republican House Speaker John Boehner earlier on Wednesday to urge him to accept a two-month extension as a step towards a full-year deal, to be negotiated in early 2012.
White House spokesman Jay Carney, asked about the shopping excursion, said the president had been very busy ahead of the trip. "Sometimes it's nice to get out of the house," he said.
(Reporting By Anna Yukahnanov and Laura MacInnis; Editing by Paul Simao)