First Family Politics

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- For as long as just about anyone can remember, the children of Presidents have been out of bounds in the political fray. So why does the President keep bringing them up, like he didannouncing he'd changed his mind onsame-sex marriage?

"Malia and Sasha," he said,"it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow, their friend's parents would be treated differently. It doesn't make sense to them."

The President has frequently invoked his children.He talked aboutthem as he campaigned to freeze rates forcollege student loans... when he bristled about Rush Limbaugh callingGeorgetown student Sandra Fluke a slut.... and he saidif he had a son, he would look likeTrayvon Martin.

"When he can use them in political literature and political advertising or political messaging to his advantage, he shows no hesitation in invoking them," said Josh Kraushaar, Executive Editor of theNational Journal Hotline.

Another famous political daughter is furious. "So let me get this straight." said Bristol Palin on her blog - "it's a problem if my mom listened too much to my dad, but it's a heroic act if the President made a massive change in a policy position that could affect the entire nation after consulting with his teenage daughters?"

"If you don't want your family, you don't want your daughters, to be part of the political conversation," says Kraushaar, "it's probably best not to bring them up at all."

Former Ambassador and eight-term Member of Congress Connie Morella raisednine children in the public eye in Bethesda. "I think you have to be very careful as a politician that you don't overdo it. That you don't super-expose your children to the point that they feel they're props."

The White House slammed a manufacturer for marketing Malia and Sasha dolls. And the White House complained about Metrobus adsthat referred to Malia and Sasha. But Morella also thinks children can help politicians keep put political arguments in context. "It does give you a connection to the people that you want to serve."

Of course, Chelsea Clinton and Jenna Bush were supposed to be off limits when they were growing up in the White House. And now they're both on the other side -- they're special correspondents for NBC News.

Written and Reported by Bruce Leshan
9News Now &
Twitter: @BruceLeshan


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