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Obama shoots pool in night out on the town in Denver

By Steve Holland

DENVER (Reuters) - A man shouted "get that man a beer" and sure enough, President Barack Obama soon had a cold pint in his hand and prepared to play billiards with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

This Tuesday night out on the town in Denver, which included slices of pizza with a group of people who had written to him, was Obama's way of escaping the confines of Washington, where partisan gridlock reigns supreme.

It was a case of "the bear is loose," the president's own description of the times when he is able to break free of the trappings of Washington and experience what everyday Americans see.

Of course that's nearly impossible with the crowds that are attracted to his every move and his security detail. Shaking hands with dozens of bystanders along a Denver street, the "bear" came face-to-face with a person wearing a horse's head mask, in honor of the Denver Broncos NFL football team.

Inside Wynkoop Brewing Company, a local brewery that prides itself as being 337 steps from the Colorado Rockies' Coors Field, Obama met with Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and they took sips from pint glasses of Railyard Ale amber beer as dozens of people snapped selfie photos.

Moving over to the green felt billiards table, Obama and Hickenlooper faced off. It was slow going at first.

"He's leaving me nothing," Obama said, a mock complaint at the position on the table he was left with after an errant Hickenlooper shot.

But then Obama began sinking balls and Hickenlooper could not.

"Uh oh!" Obama said of an errant Hickenlooper shot, and pretty soon the president was waving over to the TV cameras to make sure they had recorded his victory.

Denver was Obama's first stop on a three-day trip out of Washington that will also take him to Texas. It is mostly aimed at raising money for Democratic candidates in the November congressional elections.

But on Wednesday, he will meet in Dallas with Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican who has been sharply critical of Obama's handling of the crisis involving tens of thousands of unaccompanied children who have crossed into Texas from the border with Mexico.

(Editing by Matt Driskill)

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