Updated at 8:44 am ET
President Obama suddenly appeared today as the eighth graders whose class trip would have been ruined by a government shutdown were in the White House garden, presumably being lectured about eating right.
I admit, I’m a sucker for things like this. Some schoolchildren are hanging out and all of a sudden the president of the United States materializes. It’s sublime.
I’ve covered the White House for fourteen years, and I still get a thrill seeing the president. I mean, not quite a thrill up my leg, but it’s nice.
But let’s be clear about what’s going on here. This is more advertising for Obama’s role in averting a government shutdown. And Colorado went for Obama by nine points in 2008, but it usually goes Republican. And this little photo op will be all over the TV back in the state.
Thanks, kids, for your participation on Obama reelect 2012.
UPDATE: Here’s the video of the event. Notice the pushy teacher boasting about her kids and making all kinds of demands of Obama for education funding. And notice also Obama’s frustration that he can’t rule by fiat.
Here’s the pool report:
Roughly 50 8th graders from Altona Middle School in Longmont, Colorado stood on bleachers in the WH garden at about 1:10 p.m. The mother, Shalini Schane, who wrote a letter to the president April 6, begging him to find some agreement to keep the government open for her son’s 8th-grade trip to Washington, was in the front row. The president mentioned Schane’s letter in his speech after the 2011 budget deal was reached Friday night.
The kids thought they were just getting their picture taken and didn’t know the president was going to come out and greet them.
The kids were wearing white and maroon T shirts that said “Altona” on them and some were wearing Obama “Hope” T-shirts from the 2008 campaign . . .
The president strolled out in a black suit and the kids started cheering. “You’re all from Colorado?” Obama said. “You brought the good weather with you?”
He touched Schane’s shoulder and said that the reason they were there is because “she wrote this wonderful letter … and explained how wonderful your trip was.”
“Now that things worked out, we’d figure we’d give you a little bonus.”
A math teacher with a white Altona T-shirt told the president “these kids are so intelligent, they are the future and we can’t cut spending on education.”
Obama said he agreed with her and said “one of the debates we’re going to have is what do we spend money on …” (The rest of what he said was inaudible) “We need to make sure we have small schools, make sure that these people go to college … our attitude is schools should have more money.”
One of the girls asked Obama what he liked most about his job. He said something (inaudible) about solving big problems and talked for a minute. “and I have a really nice back yard,” he said, turning around, toward the pool, to the garden full of flowers. The kids laughed at this.
Before the president left, he said, “don’t think I didn’t notice some of the cool T shirts you’re wearing … just remember, you have great teachers, you have great parents.”
He left the kids at 1:44 p.m.
The Denver Post Washington Bureau