WASHINGTON (CNN) – A group of children got a Christmas-week visit Monday from President Barack Obama, who handed out cookies and read them "The Polar Express."
The unannounced trip to the Richard England Clubhouse and Community Center, a Boys & Girls Club of Washington, was a break from health care reform, climate change and other issues that have dominated Obama's focus in recent weeks.
About two dozen youngsters ages 6 to 11 sat on the floor as Obama took off his suit coat and read the book aloud from a chair in front, pointing to the pictures and providing dramatic emphasis to some of the lines.
Afterward, sitting forward with his elbows on his knees, Obama exhorted the youngsters to study hard.
"You guys have so much potential," he said. "One of you could be president one day, but it's only going to happen if you stay in school."
Saying they earned snacks, Obama handed out cookies shaped like Christmas trees, maple leaves, gingerbread men and even first dog Bo.
As Obama prepared to leave, one youngster gave him T-shirts for his daughters, Sasha and Malia, then asked the president to come back to play foosball, a table soccer game.
"You a pretty good foosball player?" Obama asked. "You know, I hate getting beat."
"I'll let you win," the youngster replied, and the two exchanged a fist bump.
I love my president. Good advice to the youngsters. Stay in school...
It's a great leader who can set aside a busy schedule to make time for children.... to exhort them to study and to set an example for busy people everywhere.
Good Job Mr. President.
So proud of our president.
One of our family's favorites books! Thank you, Mr. President, and we hope you and your family enjoy wonderful holidays!
Great job! You're the best President Obama!
Good for those kids! Hope they study hard and become responsible adults. Encouragement sweetens labor and the opportunities youngsters have should not go to waste.
Study hard? Why bother? One of Obama's main goals is "redistribute the wealth"–his exact words–in the US. So why bother studying hard, or working hard, when, in Obama's ideal world, everything you earn by all that effort will by taxed away and just given to some welfare bum?
I love this President. He is able to multitask and is such a great role model. My son is striving to be just like him.
I hope these children are listening to President Obama because the bar is being raised higher every day. Failure is not an option.
Oh, no, the President is talking to children again! Whatever will he say? I'm certain that "study hard" must be code for some socialist ideal.
I am very proud of this President, and I think he is doing a great job in the face of very long odds. Keep up the good work, sir. America is better for having you in the White House.
Yea, I see CNN is not non-partisan. Obviously they don't report the news as they see it, just from one point of view. I am disappointed in the state of today's journalism, pushing an agenda rather than reporting the news.
I never thought I would agree with a Republican, especially Steele, but now I agree, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the House, Harry Reid and the Senate are flipping the bird at American tax payers and voters. What has this Republic come to? Must we debate bills on Sunday? Vote on bills that voters have not seen the details? Vote on these same bills at 1:00 a.m. Monday morning?
This so called health care reform will break American and future tax payers, our children and grandchildren.
We must vote these traitors out of these elected positions.
President Obama is an amazing man who does things, not because he has to, but because it's the right thing to do. His ability to be amongst the public and relate to the common man is unbelivable, considering the pressure he's under. He's touched so many hearts and has reenergized the country to be involved, for or against, government policy. He will be among the greats when this is all said and done.
This is my President.
An excellent book!! NOW, watch the self-esteem of these children bubble over!! Thank you, President Obama, for continuing to encourage kids to study hard!! There are many, many children who just "survive" from day to day, with no enouragement and/or real emotional support at home!! I could bet those kids will have a great time telling their parents/caregivers all about visiting the White House and listening to President Obama!
It's nice to come to CNN and read these "decent" news casts!! Thank you CNN for giving us something of "substance" to read today!!!!
Actually, Obama needs to study harder.
He's failing as a president!
Our fabulous community organizer hard at work. I think this is great; this is what he does best. This is the type of job he should settle into – perhaps next year.
Merry Christmas, Mr. President. THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THAT WERE LEFT BEHIND FOR THE LAST 8 YEARS.
The GOP do not care for the American people only corporations and crazy right wing loonies.