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Second-graders brighten Obama's Daschle-dashed day

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After pleasantries, the president and Mrs. Obama began to read “The Moon Over Star” by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Jerry Pinkey. The book is about Neil Armstrong’s moon landing. A White House handout noted that “for the young protagonist of this lyrical and hopeful picture book, that landing is something that inspires her to make one giant step toward all of the possibilities that life has to offer.”

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Mrs. Obama began reading, saying, “ I will read first, but if you find my reading so compelling” she would continue. The president sat on the left facing the class, Mrs. Obama on the right, and they held the book up together so the class could see the illustrations. After Mrs. Obama read for three minutes, the president began reading. The class sat quietly with little fidgeting. Three adults sat on the floor with the kids.

When the story was over, the president said, “That’s a nice book.” Then he asked who wanted to be an astronaut. One student said yes. “What else do people want to be?” he asked. The replies included doctor, football player, and sculptor. One boy wanted to be president. “I think you might make it,” the president said.

One student wanted to be a veterinarian. “We had a fish. I’ve got to admit the fish died,” the president said. Mrs. Obama added, “The girls say we keep killing them.” One girl said she wanted to be first lady. Mrs. Obama said, “It doesn’t pay much.”

Presidential superheroes

Then the president asked for questions. Why did he want to be president? “To be able to help people,” he said. Mrs. Obama added that “he listened to his parents and teachers – most of the time.”

A student asked the president who were his superheroes. “Spider-Man and Batman” was the response.

He was asked when it was that he first wanted to be president. He replied, “When I was your age, I wanted to be an architect.”

Mrs. Obama was asked about living in the White House. “It’s a nice house,” she said. “It is one of the most important houses in the country.” The president said, “The people own it.”

The president then thanked the class. “You have been terrific,” he said. The school is “an example of how all our schools should be.” He said his administration wants to make sure we are “duplicating that success all over the country.” He noted the stimulus bill before the Senate would give the Education secretary “resources to reward innovative schools.”

A quick sales pitch

After delivering his sales pitch for the stimulus plan, the president had the class line up for a picture with him and Mrs. Obama. The class then presented the president with artwork they had made. “These are all beautiful, guys. Thank you so much,” he said.

After briefly stepping out of the classroom, the Obamas returned, with the president saying, “we brought some books” for the library. Passing books out to the students, he added, “These are some outstanding books here.” One was “Mr. Peabody’s Apples.”

About half an hour after they arrived, the president and Mrs. Obama left the classroom as he said, “thank you guys.”

When Obama returned to the White House, he was scheduled to give interviews to five television network reporters – an audience nowhere near as adoring as the one he had just left.