The Ticket

Before Newtown, Obama choked up over daughters growing up

Olivier Knox
The Ticket

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The first family, from left, first lady Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama, President Barack Obama and Malia Obama, pose …

A new People magazine interview with President Barack Obama shows him choking up over his daughters getting older as he considers “the finite amount of time you have with your children.”

“There’s something about your daughters that just breaks your heart,” he said in the exclusive question-and-answer session. “And that’s not really even an issue of dating. It’s just watching them grow up.”

He spoke with the weekly eight days before the shooting rampage left 20 schoolchildren dead in Newtown, Conn., and his comments point to yet another reason he, like parents everywhere, were so horrified and broken up by the tragedy.

He added, “When I think about the fact that Malia will be out of my house in four years, it chokes me up. The finite amount of time you have with your children, and the joy they bring on a minute-by-minute, day-by-day basis—the idea that it’s not there all the time is something that can hit me hard sometimes.”

Obama, speaking to People on Dec. 6, wistfully evoked “that sense that time is precious because it’s going to go by really fast.”

Many observers were struck by Obama’s visibly emotional first public remarks—he wiped away tears—about the shooting in Connecticut.

“Each time I learn the news, I react not as a president but as anybody else would—as a parent," he said Friday, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. "And that was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do."

There were many lighter notes in the People exchange, which hits most newsstands on Friday. Obama, joined by first lady Michelle Obama, acknowledged that daughters Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11, are “cooler than I am."

“There are things I like that they think are cheesy, like 'Gangnam Style.' I love that,” he said. (No mention of his “Mom Jeans,” though.)

The president had high praise for some recently released movies, like “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (“spectacular”), “Life of Pi,” and a thriller about a covert mission to rescue American hostages in Iran. “'Argo' I thought was terrific,” Obama said. “Ben Affleck did a nice job.”

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