Obama turns personal at 'Promise Zones' announcement
January 9th, 2014
04:32 PM ET
9 months ago

Obama turns personal at 'Promise Zones' announcement

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama took a detour into his personal history Thursday, saying a new economic initiative could help kids who were "goofing off" like he once did.

"There was a period of time in my life where I was goofing off," Obama told an audience in the White House. "I was raised by a single mom. I didn't know my dad."

The President's remarks came as he designated "Promise Zones" across the country - economically hard-hit areas where the White House will focus efforts on creating manufacturing jobs and improving economic security.

During his speech, Obama singled out a young man standing behind him as an example of someone who could benefit from the program. Roger Brown, now a sophomore in college, attended Harlem Children's Zone, a model for the new White House initiative.

"Now, the way I hear it, Roger, you were still having some problems sometimes," Obama said. "He was the class clown and acting out and almost got himself expelled.

"But the teachers and the staff did not give up on him. They saw something in him. They kept pushing him."

Finally, "something clicked" for Roger, Obama said. The young man now plans to attend medical school and become a neurologist.

"If you want to know why I care about this stuff so much, it's because I'm not that different from Roger," Obama told the audience. "The only difference between me and Roger was my environment was more forgiving than his."

Obama joked he had once shared something else with Roger: the same haircut. The President mused that someday he might again grow out his hair and sport something that resembled the young man's long, natural style.

"Maybe after I'm done with the presidency I can go back to that," Obama said, to laughter.

Addressing the lawmakers in the audience, Obama said he would continue his push to address income inequality "in my State of the Union address - which I want the legislators here to know, I'm going to keep the list shorter than usual."

"They are cheering silently," he joked.

Obama will give his State of the Union address January 28.


Filed under: President Obama • White House
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Wake up People!

    I agree with you wholeheartedly Dominican Mama!! I too am proud of our wonderful POTUS!

    January 9, 2014 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  2. I OpT OUT

    Amazing how the supposed GOP pro business, government do not create jobs folks keep saying how OBAMA failed. The Dow, the S&P are all sitting at all time highs!! It took 8 years of reckless BUSH policies to get us into this mess, and 5 years later, although not great, at least the stock market is at an all time high. Hey all you Capitalist and pro business idiots. Did you know that the stock market is the best indicator of how good or poor a Capitalist society and free market system is doing. With that as an indicator, it would seem OBAMA is doing OK.

    You intentionally neglected to say WHY the market is currently doing well, the fed is buying trillions in bonds right now and keeping it intentionally inflated.

    January 9, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  3. Mike

    You jokers lauding praise for Obama's economic policies realize that our record numbers are all artificially inflated right? People are spending LESS, not more due to inflation, which will burst Obama's economic bubble and send us into the dark ages.

    January 9, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  4. Smitty

    News flash Oblunder is still goofing off. Difference is now we get to pay for it, what a joke.

    January 9, 2014 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  5. AG

    You should see the casinos the Choctaw build in Ok. Not sure why they need a handout.

    January 9, 2014 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  6. BigJolie

    The stock market is bubble waiting to burst. 15million folks with no jobs. Thanks Obama.

    January 9, 2014 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  7. bill

    If you like your poverty You can keep your poverty. I PROMISE--period.

    January 9, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  8. james

    This president is a big freaking joke going down the drain as the worst lying president ever

    January 9, 2014 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  9. Conservative398

    Our president is a fool, what an embarrassing speech.

    January 9, 2014 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  10. ted

    Obama has no idea how wealth is created, clue be people working and government out of the way

    January 9, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  11. Frank

    There are 50 "promise zones" called States.
    So far the federal government seems powerless to keep many promises.

    January 9, 2014 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  12. Name

    How exactly are we going to pay for this?

    January 9, 2014 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  13. tinman

    Another social program the working class can pay for

    January 9, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  14. Niko the Farmer

    It all sounds as good as every other "Great Society" program since the 1960s. We've Been pouring money into these places like water, and they just get worse. What did the kids do for all those centuries before government programs? What they need is parenting. The immigrant kids who came here in the 1920s and 30s didn't have one lick of a government program. What they had were parents who supervised them even in the face of all kinds of obstacles. At some point you have to wake up and realize the government can't live your life for you, can't fix your problems for you, can't make things better for you, and can't motivate you unless you motivate yourself. There is a 50 year history of the government trying to do just that, and absolutely nothing to show for it. The facts are what they are, no matter how many names you call me.

    January 9, 2014 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  15. Baffled in Frisco

    These economic zones are going to be tax free zones or reduced tax zones to help give incentives to businesses so they will put jobs in the area. This is a brilliant idea!!! But isn't it interesting that reducing taxes is what will stimulate job growth? Doesn't that sound exactly like what NY is doing right now as well....so they can stimulate more job growth? Sounds like a republican idea that has been talked about since Reagan. And oh yeah...we've been doing that in TX forever...maybe that's why we have a great economy.

    This guy is all rhetoric.

    January 9, 2014 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  16. PaulG

    @Silence DoGood
    "economically hard-hit areas where the White House will focus efforts on creating manufacturing jobs"
    Yeah actually I did, how 'bout you? In any case another empty promise.

    January 10, 2014 05:13 am at 5:13 am |
  17. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    I trust Obama over any GOP thug. The dems just have a better agenda then the GOP , cut every social program while the population increases, that's why the GOP is the king of economic failure just look at the red GOP controlled states with poor medical care education and wages while they are AGAINEST raising the minimum wage. Vote the GOP out unless you like living in poverty. They keep tell you to cut the defict. The GOP IS the ones who ran it up to record levels while trying to blame the other guy. Kick out the GOP and ALL their incompetent fake fiscal conservative leadership once and for all in 2014 midterms!!!!!

    January 10, 2014 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  18. jashembaish

    For all the people commenting on how well he is doing based on the fact the DOW is at an all time high I gotta say, you make me laugh. Pumping 85 billion at something a month tends to do that. Where would it be without that?. What if it was a republican pres. And all you could say is wall street was doing well? It would be typical bashing of repubs and the rich. You people are such hypocrites.

    January 10, 2014 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
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