president obama in south africa this evening where he paid tribute to the man he calls his personal hero. Nelson mandela. There were questions about whether the president would get to see mandela.... See More
president obama in south africa this evening where he paid tribute to the man he calls his personal hero. Nelson mandela. There were questions about whether the president would get to see mandela. Instead joining the first lady there as they called mandela's wife who was at his side at the hospital where he was being treated. President obama respecting the family's privacy as that nation and the world prays for an icon. Abc's jonathan karl traveling with the president. Reporter: President obama met briefly with nelson mandela's family, including several of his daughters, offering them heart-felt support, peace, and comfort. But he was unable to see the man he calls a hero to the world. Mandela remains on life support. South africa's president said he's in critical but stable condition. President obama drew some protesters, opposed to his administration's policies on terrorism, including the use of drone strikes, but he received an enthusiastic welcome at a town hall with young leaders. At every stop in africa, president obama has paid tribute to mandela. The outpouring of love that we've seen in recent days shows that the triumph of nelson mandela and this nation speaks to something very deep in the human spirit. Reporter: Obama's met mandela only once and for just ten minutes as a junior senator. Two years ago, michelle obama and daughters sasha and malia had a chance to meet with him. Afterwards mrs. Ob -- obama told david muir it was the opportunity of a lifetime. What did you say to him? I told him, you cannot imagine how important your legacy is to who I am, to who my husband is. I just said thank you, thank you, thank you. It was expected to be the emotional high point of the president's trip to africa. The obama family will go to the infamous prison on south africa's robben island tomorrow to see the cell where nelson mandela spent 18 years of his 27 years in prison.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.