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Obama absent from Malia’s university search process

February 18, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is missing out on part of his oldest daughter’s life: her university campus tours as she tries to figure out where to study in two years.

Obama was absent when 16-year-old Malia toured Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley last summer. Her mother, Michelle Obama, was the parent who accompanied Malia on recent visits to New York University, Barnard College and her father’s alma mater, Columbia University.

One possible explanation for Obama’s absence is that presidents attract attention wherever they go and their presence could detract from the visit.

Practically everywhere they go, presidents are accompanied by helpers and advisers, Secret Service agents, drivers, doctors, reporters and others who travel in his protective security bubble.

“It’s hard to tour college campuses with that moving office in tow,” said Lisa Caputo, former press secretary and deputy assistant to President Bill Clinton. “It brings a lot of attention, which is really not the point of the visits.”

It’s easier for presidential children to take these trips with their mother or other family member, Caputo said.

Obama checked out Stanford’s picturesque, palm-tree lined campus in Palo Alto, California, last week when he addressed a cybersecurity summit there.

Bill Clinton, the most recent president to send a child straight from the White House to college, did not tour any campuses with daughter Chelsea. She did that with her mother, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Chelsea’s parents accompanied her to Stanford in the fall of 1997 to begin her freshman year, and were there again waving and blowing kisses when she graduated in 2001.

Whichever college Malia decides to attend in the fall of 2016, Obama most likely will show up for her big first day. Malia is her third year at the exclusive Sidwell Friends School in Washington, where Chelsea also was a student.

Obama is an involved father who has been open about the pain of growing up without his dad and his desire to be a presence in his kids’ lives. Despite his presidential duties, Obama still attends parent-teacher conferences, sports events and other school functions.


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