At a town hall meeting in Kaukauna, Wisc., Thursday afternoon, amidst questions about health care and the economy, a young man said he had a question for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and Obama should "please be as intellectual or spiritual as you would like."
"Well this is a lot of pressure," Obama said to laugher.
"My question is: what does life mean to you?" the young man asked.
"Oh goodness," Obama said, a bit taken aback. "What does life mean to me?"
He stammered a bit as he contemplated the enormity of the query.
"Well, uh, I, uh…"
The crowd of 2,500 supporters at Kaukauna High School * laughed with apparent sympathy.
"I don't know where to start on a question like that," Obama said. "Let me just say a couple things. Right now what I think about most is my daughters who are 10 and 7," he said, referring to his daughters Malia and Sasha. "And not that I'm biased but they are perfect in all ways."
To the young man who asked the question, Obama said, "when I was your age, I thought life was all about me. And how do make my way in the world and how do I become successful and how do I get the things that I want. And right now life for me revolves around those two girls. And I think about what kind of a place am I leaving them."
And with that, came the able pivot.
"Michelle and I have been incredibly blessed," Obama said. "As long as God's looking over, my girls are going to be OK." They go to "great schools, will be able to afford college, are in good health and will be well cared for if they ever get sick.
But the country and the world they're living in, Obama said, needs work.
"Are they living in a county where there’s a huge gap between a few who are wealthy and a whole bunch of people who are struggling every day?" Obama asked. "Are they living in a county that is still divided by race?
"Are they living in a country where because they’re girls they don’t have as much opportunity as boys do?
"Are they living in a country where we are hated around the world because we don’t cooperate with other countries as effectively as we should? Are they living in a country where they are threatened by terrorism and a nuclear explosion could happen in a major American city? Are they living in a country in which because of a lack of sensible energy we are not only ransoming our future, but we’re also threatening the very livelihood of the planet?"
Obama continued, "what life means to me is that every day I wake up trying to figure out how can I secure their futures and the futures of all children, ...How can I make sure that we are giving a planet and a country to them that is better than the one we got? And, you know ,so I guess what I’ve discovered is that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re somehow giving yourself to something larger to yourself. And that’s part of my Christian faith. It’s also part of the reason I am running for president of the United States."
That's what life means to him. In case you were wondering.
-Jake Tapper in Kaukauna, Wisc.