Governor supports allowing students to watch Obama speech

Published September 5, 2009 9:49 pm
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Republican Gov. Gary Herbert supports President Barack Obama's plan to deliver a televised back-to-school speech to the nation's students Tuesday, saying he sees "nothing but good coming out of this."

Herbert said he favors letting students listen to the speech, and he thinks it will foster a dialogue between parents and their children.

"I think it's great. To hear from the president of the United States is an important thing," he said Saturday. "I'd like to hear what he has to say.

"I hope parents will take the opportunity to discuss the issues with their children, hear what the president's views are and what his vision is for the future of America. If they agree, then explain that. If they disagree, explain to their children why. I see nothing but good coming out of this," he said.

The governor, who has grandchildren in the Utah school system, said he can't imagine that they wouldn't watch the speech.

Conservative critics have charged that the speech is an underhanded attempt at political indoctrination.

White House officials say the 15- to 20-minute speech is about getting students to work hard and stay in school.

Angie Welling, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Herbert started a program as lieutenant governor in which employees from the lieutenant governor's office visited area schools to speak about civics.

"He is a strong supporter of schoolchildren knowing about their democracy and how government works," she said, adding that Herbert's passion for bringing government to the classroom is one reason he thinks listening to Obama's speech is a good idea for students.

She noted Herbert received a congratulatory call from Obama when he became governor. The call was a thrill for Herbert, Welling said, despite the fact the two have different political views.

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