Obama’s ‘Slurpee summit’ has convenience store salivating


Washington : Barack Obama seems to have a thing for naming summits after drinks. The makers of those beverages couldn’t be happier.

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The US president jumped on a reporter’s suggestion Wednesday that he call an upcoming meeting with top Democratic and Republican legislative leaders a “Slurpee summit” to hash out a way forward after Tuesday’s elections, in which Obama’s party suffered major losses in Congress.

“They’re delicious drinks,” Obama quipped, joking that he might serve the popular slushed ice drinks at what is likely to be a frosty meeting between leaders of the two major parties.

The maker of Slurpees, convenience store chain 7-Eleven, capitalized almost immediately, offering Thursday to host the Slurpee summit and install a machine to make the drinks at the White House.

“We are not surprised by President Obama’s comments about Slurpee, which is non-partisan and has been bringing people together for more than 40 years,” 7-Eleven chief executive Joe DePinto said in a statement.

In the run-up to Tuesday’s election, Obama repeatedly used the metaphor of his Democrats pushing a car out of a ditch to describe their efforts to rescue the US economy. Republicans meanwhile were standing idly by on the roadside, “sipping on a Slurpee”, he said.

The analogy did little to help Democrats’ fortunes in Tuesday’s elections, as Republicans recaptured the House of Representatives and narrowed the Democrats’ majorities in the Senate. But 7-Eleven was ecstatic about the free publicity.

Slurpee trucks will be leaving Friday from Dallas, driving from Texas all the way to the US capital, offering consumers the opportunity to create their own crushed ice mixes along the way.

The drinks come in a variety of colourful flavours, including the red that represents Republicans and blue for Democrats on the ubiquitous maps used by newscasters to illustrate election results.

And 7-Eleven rolled out plans for a new, bipartisan flavour: “Purple for the People.”

The Slurpee summit comes after Obama hosted a “beer summit” in July 2009 at the White House, trying to diffuse a racial row by bringing together an African-American Harvard professor and the white police officer who arrested him at his home.