Politics aside: President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney put premium on being good dads

Published: Friday, Sept. 7 2012 1:00 p.m. MDT

In a Jan. 10, 2012 file photo Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, celebrates with sons, from left, Matt, Tagg, Craig, Ben, Josh and wife Ann, after his New Hampshire Primary Election win in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012.

Associated Press

The two men battling to lead the United States of America have some very different ideas on how government should run and what the nation's priorities should be. But both Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat and sitting President Barack Obama agree on one thing: Family truly matters and fatherhood is important.

Obama is father to two girls: Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11. Romney is father to five adult sons: Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben and Craig.

Forget politics and partisanship. Today, we take a look at two men who love their families and what they and others say about their role as dads. The order was chosen, by the way, alphabetically.

Barack Obama:

In an interview which will air as part of the documentary "Obama Revealed: The Man, The President," CNN reports that Obama frequently refuses social invitations in favor of time at home with his daughters.

"Sometimes Michelle and I not doing the circuit and going out to dinners with folks is perceived as us being cool," Obama said. "It actually really has more to do with us being parents.

"Sometimes on the weekends, we may turn down the invitation to this or that or the other just because we're trying to carve out family time," Obama said. "And I think that's sometimes interpreted as me not wanting to be out there slapping backs and wheeling and dealing. That really has more to do with just the stage we are in our lives."

The article quoted one of Obama's aides and close friends Valerie Jarrett who said Obama "wants to be the kind of dad he never had."

"I want my girls to know that no matter what else is going on, they're my first priority," he told Essence Magazine.

Right after he was sworn in, Parade magazine published a letter it had asked him to write to his daughters, outlining his hopes for them and other children. Among other things, Obama wrote how their births changed him.

"But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn't seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn't count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours."

His dreams for them and other children, he noted, include schools "worthy of their potential," pushing "the boundaries of discovery" and wars that endanger young lives "only for a very good reason." He concluded, "These are the things I want for you — to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That's why I've taken our family on this great adventure."

Fatherhood — and doing it right — has been a recurring theme with the president, who launched a fatherhood initiative early in his first term. During Father's Day, 2010, he reflected on that, calling for fathers to engage with their children and be responsible:

"Now, I can’t legislate fatherhood — I can’t force anybody to love a child. But what we can do is send a clear message to our fathers that there is no excuse for failing to meet their obligations. What we can do is make it easier for fathers who make responsible choices and harder for those who avoid those choices. What we can do is come together and support fathers who are willing to step up and be good partners and parents and providers," he said in a speech that was transcribed on the White House website.

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