Pint-Sized Press Avail: Obama Takes Questions From Elementary Students

Dec 16, 2008 4:08pm

ABC NEWS’ SUNLEN MILLER REPORTS:

After their press conference today, President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden went in front of another — albeit smaller — group of questioners.

Obama and Biden dropped in on a group of 12 students from grades 1 thru 4 from Dodge Renaissance Academy. The questioners this time held no notepads or recorders. In fact, they had just wrapped up learning timetables and decimals — yet their questions were quite good, soliciting some humorous responses from the future President.

PRESIDENTIAL PUPPIES & THE MOVE TO WASHINGTON

Obama referenced that Biden had beat him to the punch getting a dog before his own family, and described the responsibilities — yes, picking up dog poop — that were required for his daughters to own their first dog.

“I want to make sure that my daughters do what I’m sure Joe is going to be doing is to make sure that you take care of your dog. You have to feed your dog, and walk your dog. And then if they do their business if they got some poop, you gotta make sure that you’re not just leaving it there. So I want to make sure my kids are taking care of their dog properly.”

Obama told the children that his daughters will be starting in a new school when they move to Washington, DC and said it will be an exciting time for his whole family, even though they have to move away from their hometown.

“You know I’m going to miss Chicago. I’m going to have to come back here. I still have a house on the South Side and we’ll be coming back here often.”

When asked by one of the children if he is going to have four (whole) rooms in the White House, Obama chuckled, “You know the White House is pretty big I think we have even more than four rooms.”

Obama said he is not going to use all the rooms in the White House, “I’ll have my bedroom, and the White House has a pretty good office for the President. It’s an oval shaped office so they call it the Oval Office.”

FOREIGN ISSUES: TRAVEL & THE WAR

When asked if he will “go to other places,” when he is President, Obama confirmed that part of his — and Biden’s — job description is to do just that.

“One of the things you do as President is you go represent the United States. And Joe Biden as Vice President — one of the things he’ll do is represent the United States in other countries. So we’ll go and meet with other world leaders and Presidents and sometimes you meet with a king or a queen. You know it’s pretty interesting stuff.”

A child with a cousin serving in Iraq was asked when President-elect Obama plans to bring the soldiers home.

“Well one of the things I promised I would do is try to bring this war in Iraq to an end. And hopefully be able to get all our troops home, get all the people who are fighting, try to get them out in about a year and a half.”

DOMESTIC ISSUES: SOCIAL SECURITY AND EDUCATION

A child inquired why some bus companies weren’t letting senior citizens ride for free anymore.

“When you get older sometimes you don’t have a lot of money because you’re not working anymore. And it’s really important that those of us that they took care of that we’re there for them. And that’s why Social Security is so important, that’s a way that we make sure senior citizens have money. That’s why we should have programs to make bus programs and transportation cheaper for them,” Obama responded.

And a very important question on the minds of students: as President, will Obama make the school year longer?

“Kids in a lot of other countries go to school more than kids here in the United States. And so one of the things that I think we’re going to be talking about is whether or not we should have longer school days, maybe with more breaks. You know whether or not the summer months should be shorter or longer. I haven’t made any decisions,” he said.

DISSING JOE OVER DECIMALS

Maybe President-elect Obama knows something about Biden’s mathematical abilities that we don’t, but today he razzed his VP multiple times over… decimals.

Here are the humorous exchanges:

Kid: I’ve been learning timetables.

Obama: Timetables? Well that’s very good to learn. Decimals? Man, Joe doesn’t even know his decimals I don’t think.

Biden: Timestables. I’m not bad at but decimals? Woah!

And during a conversation later…

Another kid: We’ve been learning about multiplication and division with our decimals.

Obama: With decimals? Man! (Obama hits Biden on the back.) He can’t even do decimals without the multiplication and division!

And again at third conversation later Obama admits that maybe it is HE who actually isn’t the best on decimals…

Obama: All of you are learning. If you’re reading and you know your math, your decimals, your fractions and you know later on you’re going to be learning about history and science. If you’re learning all that stuff you’re going to be able to get a good job and you’re going to be able to help create new things that people use and that’s what makes the country strong. And that’s going to be one of my highest priorities.

Biden: And you may be President one day. (Biden puts arm on Obama’s shoulder.)

Obama: That’s possible. Although I don’t know how I did on decimals.

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