Friday, October 5, 2012

Presidential Fatherhood: Obama and Romney on Being Fathers

I watched the first 2012 Presidential debate last Wednesday night. It was the first time I saw both President Barrack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney together on one stage delivering their case and messages to the public on who is the best person to do the job as President of the United States. But I wonder what the two candidates are like as fathers. What their constituents say about their paternal role and policies. Here’s a quick comparison on the two candidates and their stance on fatherhood.

President Barrack Obama
Has 2 children and married 20 years to Michelle Obama.

One of Pres. Obama’s aides and close friend Valerie Jarrett said, Obama “wants to be the kind of dad he never had.” President Obama told Essence Magazine, “I want my girls to know that no matter what else is going on, they’re my first priority,”

President Obama referred fatherhood as “my hardest, but always my most rewarding job… Malia and Sasha may live in the White House these days,” he said, “but Michelle and I still make sure they finish their schoolwork, do their chores and walk the dog.”

President Obama was raised by his single mother. His father Barack Obama Sr. divorced his mother and abandoned the family when he was two. President Obama said in an interview with ABC News, his experiences with his own father is “why I’ve tried so hard to be a good dad for my own children.”

Barack Obama believes passionately in responsible fatherhood and has been outspoken about the need for African-American fathers to step up to their responsibilities as fathers. In 2008, he address the African-American community saying, "We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child -- it's the courage to raise one....”

President Obama sponsored the Responsible Fatherhood andHealthy Families Act of 2007 in the United States Senate. According to Obama's 2008 campaign website, this bill is designed to "remove some of the government penalties on married families, crack down on men avoiding child support payments, ensure that support payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies, fund support services for fathers and their families, and support domestic violence prevention efforts. As president, Obama will sign this bill into law and continue to implement innovative measures to strengthen families." According to, is not yet been signed into law.

Gov. Mitt Romney, Republican
Has 5 sons, 16 grandchildren and married 46 years to Ann Romney.

“Certainly a big part of the Mitt Romney story is his family,” said Russ Schriefer, a senior Romney strategist. “One of the real organizing principles of his life is his relationship with Ann and with the boys.”

According to his eldest son Tagg, Gov. Romney tried to keep his work separate from his home life. Although he was working long hours, Tagg recalled, “When he walk in the door, he was excited to see everybody… you didn’t know if he had a good day or a bad day at the office.”

Gov. Romney’s five sons have all taken an active role in his current and past campaigns for president. Their level of involvement is a departure from Gov. Romney’s early political career where the sons have taken a lower public profile to maintain their privacy.

Gov. Romney is also open in his appreciation for his own father George Romney the former Governor of Michigan and who also ran for president in 1968. In an interview in 2007, Gov. Romney was quoted “I am a shadow of the real deal” referring to his dad George’s successful career in politics and raising a family under the Mormon mantra, “no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”

But not all are think Gov. Romney’s record on fatherhood is stellar, Michigan Fatherhood Coalition founder was quoted in an interview, “He is apparently continuing the pattern of his Republican predecessors in viewing father’s rights as some kind of subset of women’s issues… This is bad news not just for non-custodial fathers, but for all males… He has so far ignored our concerns about the anti-father bias in the courts and the domestic violence, child abuse, and child support regimes that are crucifying fathers in the name of protecting women and providing for children."

Below are Father's Day videos released by the Obama and Romney campaigns respectively that clearly presents the two candidates as regular dads.


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