First, the White House named Pittsburgh Steelers patriarch Dan Rooney ambassador to Ireland, then honored the team for its Super Bowl championship with a reception that was more than the usual handshake and photo op.
Then pancakes from Pamela's restaurant became Memorial Day breakfast for the Obama family and guests. Now, the administration is putting Pittsburgh on the world stage as the host city for September's G-20 summit.
What would you expect for a region that initially threw its considerable Democratic political muscle steadfastly behind ... Hillary Clinton?
That's right. Gov. Ed Rendell, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and county Democratic Chairman Jim Burn all were vocal, out-front supporters of Mrs. Clinton in her effort to win the national party's nomination over Barack Obama. They were successful in pushing her to an easy victory in Pennsylvania.
Local officials say their immediate and strong support for Mr. Obama once he won the Democratic nomination -- as well as Mr. Obama's familiarity with the region's story of strong recovery and industrial diversification after the failure of the steel industry in the 1980s -- are responsible for the White House's seemingly favorable gaze.
The Sept. 24 to 25 conference will put Pittsburgh on the international stage as the heads of state of the world's leading economic powers gather here for an update on the world economic crisis.
Moira Mack, a White House spokeswoman, said Mr. Obama became familiar with the region's rebirth during many campaign visits and developed "an affinity" for the city.
"After spending quite a bit of time in Pennsylvania ... the president has seen the region embrace green technology, and new industries, and that's what we want to highlight at the summit," she said.
Mr. Onorato has been beating that same drum for several years.
"This is a 40-year story of rebirth that's playing out here," Mr. Onorato said yesterday, noting the region's conversion from a steel mecca to an economy that includes the health care, robotics, nuclear energy and banking industries.
Mr. Onorato said his relationship with Mr. Obama goes back to 2006, when the former Illinois senator was in Pennsylvania to support Robert Casey's bid for the U.S. Senate. After campaigning for Mr. Obama, he said, he's kept in contact with the White House on economic recovery issues.
"I think what's driving the president here is the story this region has to tell of recovery and diversification," Mr. Burn said. "It's really a paradigm for the nation and the world. That's more important than the politics."
The group campaigned vigorously for Mrs. Clinton, he said, but they didn't go out of their way to disparage Mr. Obama.
"This was a healthy debate between two outstanding candidates," Mr. Burn said. "Once the convention was held in Denver, the debate was over and we made sure we went away from there with a goal of keeping Pennsylvania a Democratic state and winning the White House.
"The president saw that the numbers came through."
The region's initial lukewarm response to Mr. Obama's campaign for president has never been brought up by the White House, Mr. Ravenstahl said.
"To his credit, there has never been any indication of any lingering grudge or animosity," he said. "Through his actions, he has shown his recognition of our story."
That recognition of the city's relatively stable economy despite the recession didn't seem to resonate with the White House press corps, where snickers were heard when spokesman Robert Gibbs announced Thursday the choice of Pittsburgh for the summit.
Mr. Gibbs quickly defended the decision.
"I think it's an area that has seen its share of economic woes in the past but because of foresight and investment is now renewed -- giving birth to renewed industries that are creating the jobs of the future," he said. "And I think the president believes it would be a good place to highlight some of that."
Mr. Ravenstahl and Mr. Onorato said they were put off by the reaction of the press corps to Pittsburgh's selection for the summit.
"The White House recognizes us. That's more important," Mr. Onorato said.
And of course, there's Pamela's pancakes, which Mr. Burn noted is just the tip of a diverse cuisine and population in the Pittsburgh region. See Primanti's sandwiches or Isaly's chipped-chopped ham.
"That's a tribute to the people and the amenities of southwestern Pennsylvania," he said. "I might even put something like Pamela's above the region's story in importance."
Ed Blazina can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1470.