ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports:
President Obama today surprised a group of 8th graders from Colorado visiting the White House today who would not have enjoyed their trip to Washington, D.C., as much if there had been a government shutdown.
“Are you having fun,” Obama asked surprising the students, gathered on the South Lawn driveway who were unaware they’d be meeting the president today, just told they were getting their photo taken at the White House.
Mr. Obama referenced this class in his remarks Friday night from the Blue Room off the White House after a deal was negotiated, highlighting an example of who would benefit with no shutdown. One of the students parents had written a letter to the president last week expressing how important this trip was to the students.
“She wanted to make sure we didn’t cancel it and so not only did things work out but we figured we’d give you a little bonus,” the president said of his guest appearance today.
The middle school students from Altona Middle School in Longmont, Colorado also visited Capitol Hill, and the monuments in DC after studying government in school in the lead up to their trip this week.
Today the student’s math teacher made an appeal to the president asking to not cut the spending on their education.
“I completely agree,” Obama said, “one of the debates that we’re going to have, not just on the past two months but over the next six months is what we spend our money on, at the state level and federal level and d what is our highest priorities.”
The president said that some things, like making sure that there are strong schools, are investments into the future.
“We’ve got to make sure that we continue to make those investments, and that’s going to be a big battle,” Obama said, “we’re going to have some people who disagree with that.”
The president was asked what he liked best about being president.
“Everyone in awhile something that I’ve done is really helping someone,” he answered, also adding that his house is right next to his office so he doesn’t have to commute.
Conversely the president was asked what the hardest part of being president is to him.
“This is such a big country, with some many different kinds of people and everyone has different ideas,” he said, “so even if you have a clear sense of what you want to do, on the budget, or on health care, or on foreign policy, there are going to be, you know, half the country may disagree with you. And trying to make sure that in a democracy everybody is able to come to the table, express their opinions, and do that in a respectful way so that we’re still able to solve problems, that’s challenging.”
The president said that it would be easier for him to say ‘this is what I think” and then just go to do, but that’s not the way democracy works.
“I’ve got this thing called Congress and they’re elected to make sure that your opinions, when you vote for members of congress that your opinions are expressed. You’ve got the judiciary that says we’ve got the constitution and this is how we’ve got to do things. “
The president said that everyone has to work together and sort out their differences, “and sometimes in this kind of environment,” it makes democracy “move really slow.”
“Sometimes I get a little frustrated that the debates aren’t more honest or as clear,” he concluded, adding that overall it is a good job, with a “really nice backyard.”
And with that the president took a photo with the students, said his goodbye, and then took off his suit coat, flipped it over his shoulder and strolled down the White House driveway on a very warm spring day.