TODAY   |  June 22, 2012

Obama, Romney bring kids into campaign

As the 2012 presidential campaigns heat up, both President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney are sharing stories about their children. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>> parents president obama loves talking about his kids. but during an election year, those stories might also help him out at the box office . kristen welker joins us this morning. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning. president obama usually leaves the family at home when he hits the campaign trail but doesn't hesitate to remind voters he doesn't live alone here at the white house . analysts say with less than five months to go to election day , it seems like we're hearing about the first daughters more and more. with the exception of a occasional family appearance, the first daughters are shielded from the spotlight but lately we have heard a lot about them on the campaign trail.

>> i want my daughters to have the same opportunities as your sons.

>> reporter: during serious moments like the president's endorsement of same-sex marriage last month.

>> malia and sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples.

>> reporter: just this week the first lady got emotional while talking about them in colorado.

>> that is what i think about every night when i tuck my girls in. i think about the world i want to leave for them. and as for all of our sons and daughters , i think about how i want to do for them what my dad did for me.

>> reporter: so are the president's references careful campaign calculation, political analysts say intentional or not, the mention could resonate to key voters.

>> the fact he's pitching to women voters is a big reason he's been talking so much about his daughters in the campaign so far and will continue to do so.

>> analysts also say the obama girls humanize their dad who has at times been criticized as being aloof. presidential historian doris goodman notes malia and sasha are the youngest white house residents since john john and caroline kennedy .

>> we've had young families in the white house , whether it was abraham lincoln , jfk, there was a merriment, vitality and the country respond to the president even more.

>> adult children can be just as powerful on the trail.

>> as you can tell, this is a family affair .

>> reporter: mitt romney often seen as robertic has turned to his five sons to help show off his lighter side.

>> true or false your dad's hair is chiselled out of imported african mahogany .

>> that is true.

>> reporter: personalized accounts they can open a window into their parents character, a window that might otherwise be closed. the spotlight can be harsh. as a mother of five sarah palin reached soccer moms but faced scrutiny for her daughter bristol's teen pregnancy. first daughters back to amy carter struggled growing up in the public eye. the benefits outweigh the downside.

>> people very much understand politics of family business . they expect to see and get to know the family. after all, they are going to have the first family in their lives, too, and their living rooms for the next four years.

>> analysts also point out that today's media saturated world plays a big role in all this, things like facebook and twitter. voters expect to get an up close look inside a candidate's life. ann.

>> kristen welker this morning. kristen , thanks.