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Obama Town Hall: Last question, the little kid Ethan kills

March 19, 2009 |  2:41 pm

OK, so now it's time for the final question of the town hall at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex and President Obama is not bending his rules one bit. The last question will be asked by a boy, but, Obama  suddenly decides, not just any boy.

"Hold on a sec," the president says. "I think I wanna call on a young person, a student, but it's gotta be a guy.... No, no, you're not that young, you sit down." (It's hard to tell whom he was speaking to, because so many in the crowd had their hands up.)

He finally settles on a youngster, who turns out to be 8-year-old Ethan Lopez, a third-grader who is looking very spiffy in a white dress shirt and tie. Ethan is clutching a large envelope, which he hands to his mother so he can hold the microphone.

"Hi," says the boy, "my name is Ethan, President Obama. Our school is in big trouble because of budget cuts. Twenty-five of our teachers have already been fired to get pink slips, and the whole school, my class,  we made this." He gestures to the envelope.

"Are those letters for me?" asks Obama. "Is that your mom? She looks very nice."

Obama assures Ethan that he plans to do all that he can to "protect teachers," but also uses the moment to plug his school construction program, which he says he forgot to mention earlier. Then he realizes he is still talking to a third-grader.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" the president asks the boy.

"A cop," says Ethan with finality.

"That's what I'm talking about. All right," replies Obama. "Well, I can tell you that you will be an outstanding police officer. Your mom's proud of you. We're all proud of you. Give Ethan a big round of applause."

And with that, Obama ended his 40-minute town hall. Next, he'll be making his way to Burbank, where Jay Leno has saved him a seat on the "Tonight Show" couch.

-- Robin Abcarian

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