Obama's 'gum salute' talking point

Obama's 'gum salute' talking point

US President Barack Obama, the chief guest of the Republic Day parade, removing his chewing gum and popping it back in his mouth sent the social media into a tizzy with criticism and explanations as to what it was about.

Incidentally, President Pranab Mukherjee was also briefly seen chewing, probably a daily pill, but the attention was on Obama. As Obama appeared to enjoy the marching contingents' tunes, his chewing gum caught the attention of some US correspondents who said on Twitter it was most likely nicorette. Author Shobhaa De tweeted: “Barack bhai working his jaws overtime and chewing gum! At least it isn't gutka. But seriously - gum during a formal parade?”

David B Cohen, a US political expert who worked under President George W Bush, said on Twitter: “That's his 21-gum salute”, in reply to the tweet: “Just now saw Prez Obama chewing somethin (sic)”. Annie Gowen, South Asia bureau chief of the “Washington Post”, drew attention to her newspaper's story last November, which had said he was chewing nicotine gum to quit smoking.  “Hey India! You were wondering why Obama chewed gum during Republic Day Parade? Read this explainer,” she said, linking the article with the tweet.

The “Washington Post” had, in a report by Terrence McCoy, said, “For Obama, gum isn't about vanity. His aides described his quest to kick cigarettes as a 'lifelong struggle'.”  The report recalled how Obama was slammed on social media in China for chewing gum at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit held in Beijing in last June. According to the report, Obama’s physician, in his third physical examination of the US president. Had noted that Obama was in “excellent” health, except for one minor problem: his history of smoking. But Obama, the report found, was now “tobacco free”, buoyed by the “occasional use” of nicotine gum.

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