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Presidential candidates
President Obama
Party: Democratic
What he did before: He was a United States senator from Illinois. He also served in the Illinois state senate and was a lawyer and law professor.
Birthday: Aug. 4, 1961 (He’s 51 years old.)
Family: Married to Michelle Obama. They have two daughters, Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11.
Fun fact: Obama is a tough dad. His daughters flew to North Carolina to hear their dad’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. He began his speech by saying, “Malia and Sasha, you make me so proud. But don’t get any ideas – you’re still going to class tomorrow.” Mitt Romney
Party: Republican
What he did before: He was the governor of Massachusetts. He also ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, and founded a company called Bain Capital.
Birthday: March 12, 1947 (He’s 65 years old.)
Family: Married to Ann Romney. They have five grown sons: Taggart, Matthew, Joshua, Benjamin and Craig.
Fun fact: Mitt Romney recently said that his favorite snack is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of chocolate milk.
Where you can learn more
Here are some places to find great, kid-friendly information about elections and the presidency. Always ask a grown-up (parent or teacher) before going online.
For kids:
•Nickelodeon has a website with kids talking about the issues, the job of the president and biographies of the candidates. You can check it out at www.nick.com/shows/kids-pick-the-president.
•The U.S. government has a kid-friendly site that includes a cool, downloadable poster about how the president is chosen. It’s at www.kids.gov.
For teachers:
•PBS offers teachers videos, lesson plans and games related to the election through its PBS Learning Media site.

Kids: Have debate at home

You don’t have to be a presidential candidate to have a debate. If you are a kid, you can stage a debate in the classroom or at home.

Pick an issue that has two clear sides. (For example: Should middle-schoolers get recess time?)

Before you start your debate, ask classmates (or family members) how they feel on the issue. After the debate, see if they have changed their minds. Here are some tips:

Research the issue. If, for example, you are going to make the argument that middle school students should have recess because they need the exercise, make sure you can talk about the benefits of exercise.

Guess what the other side will say. In a debate, the idea is to convince people that you have the correct position. If you think that the anti-recess side will argue that the time could be better spent learning math facts, explain why 20 minutes of exercise is more valuable than 20 more minutes in the classroom.

Use humor. It’s important to have the facts, but people may be more likely to support a position if they like the person. Making them laugh is a good way to make them like you.

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