U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday spent some time with the preschool set, using a visit to Philadelphia to promote early education initiatives.
Obama, who has been locked in a bitter partisan dispute with Congress over initiatives to promote job growth and cut the deficit, visited the Yeadon Regional Head Start Center, where he watched the youngsters play with blocks, puzzles, toys and computers.
"They are just so huggable," Obama said of the 3 to 5 year olds before talking about the need to fund early education programs.
"We know that 3 and 4 year olds who go to quality preschools … are less likely to repeat a grade, are less likely to need special education, are more likely to graduate from high school … ," Obama said. "This makes early education one of our best investments.
"Unfortunately in Congress right now it's a different story. The Republicans in Washington are trying to gut our investments in education." They voted in favor of cuts to Head Start and to Pell Grants, and against the piece of the Obama jobs bill that would have funded teacher salaries. He also noted Congress has yet to fix the No Child Left Behind law.
About 200 people were packed into the facility's auditorium to hear the president, who said he would stay off the subject of football -- the Chicago Bears beat the Philadelphia Eagles Monday night.
"I was told not to mention football. So I'm not going to say anything about football while I'm here, because it's a sensitive subject. That's why I have Secret Service," Obama joked.