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Blame It on the Kids

By Alec MacGillis
DENVER -- For the growing list of prominent Democrats in Washington and across the country who are endorsing Barack Obama, there's an obvious risk in rebuking the party's most powerful duo of the past two decades. But several high-profile figures who faced pressure from fellow women to stick with Hillary Clinton have discovered a handy way of helping explain their choice for Obama: blame it on the kids. The youth movement behind Obama isn't just bringing 18-year-olds to the polls -- it's also providing cover for their parents.

When Claire McCaskill, the Missouri senator, endorsed Obama earlier this month, she said it was the urging of her 18-year-old daughter that got her over the hump. When Caroline Kennedy announced her endorsement on Sunday, she also invoked her children as a reason: "I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own," she wrote in her New York Times op-ed. "As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents' grandchildren, with that sense of possibility."

Tuesday came Kathleen Sebelius, the governor of Kansas, who offered the most detailed attribution of all when she endorsed Obama during a visit to his grandfather's hometown of El Dorado, Kansas -- and which she then repeated during a big rally in Kansas City, Mo. She said that her two sons had been after her for a long time to endorse Obama, but for different reasons. Her elder, in law school, likes Obama for his message, "because he could bring people together"; her younger one likes Obama because he likes Michelle Obama. "He says that anyone who can get Michelle to marry him has to have something going for him."

"My life at home is going to be a whole lot easer" now that her endorsement is official, Sebelius joked. Turning serious, she said, "I have worried about the disinvolvement of [young voters]...worried about what it means for our democracy if our young people check out. This campaign is transforming that younger generation in America."

There are limits, of course. Rudy Giuliani's daughter confessed her admiration for Obama on-line last year, but no one's expecting kind words from her dad anytime soon.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 30, 2008; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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