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Image: President-elect Barack Obama
President-elect Barack Obama, center, flanked by Education Secretary-designate Arne Duncan, right, and Vice President-elect Joe Biden, visit students at the Dodge Renaissance Academy in Chicago on Tuesday
updated 12/16/2008 3:23:29 PM ET 2008-12-16T20:23:29

A dozen grade schoolers got their own chance to quiz President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday, getting an earful on such issues as longer school days, how it feels to be on television, and even the first puppy's "business."

"How will you feel when you move to the White House?" one child asked.

"I'm going to be excited," Obama said, explaining that he would have a "pretty nice office" in the shape of an oval when he got to Washington.

Obama was joined by Vice President-elect Joe Biden and Arne Duncan, the head of the Chicago school system and Obama's pick for education secretary. The three greeted the youngsters, who ranged from first-graders to fourth-graders, after a news conference at the Dodge Renaissance Academy in Chicago.

Obama met with them in a library at the academy. They sat on the carpet in front of him, each eagerly raising their hands to ask questions and discuss what they were learning in school.

"Decimals," Obama replied to one student. "Wow, Joe doesn't even know his decimals," he joked about Biden.

The president-elect talked about how his daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, will get a dog when they make the move to the White House next month.

"They've been asking for a dog for years now," he said.

Obama said the girls would need to take care of their pet. And that didn't just mean feeding and walking the dog.

"You know, if they do their business, if they've got some poop — you got to make sure that you're not just leaving it there," Obama said.

The president-elect fielded more questions from the children than he did from the members of the press, who came to the school for a morning news conference where Obama announced Duncan as his education secretary.

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Not all the children's questions were lighthearted. One child, who said a cousin was serving in Iraq, asked Obama about the troops overseas.

"One of the things that I promised I would do is to try to bring this war in Iraq to an end," Obama said, adding that he hoped to have them home in about a year and a half.

Another asked Obama what he would do to represent the efforts of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Obama said not just presidents, but everyone could do their part to honor King's work by treating people with respect and listening.

"Dr. King used to talk about the fact that, you know, no matter what your job is, you want to do your best," Obama said. "And right now your job is to learn, so when you guys are in class you got to make sure you're working as hard as you can."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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