WHITE HOUSE NOTEBOOK: More Bieber questions

AP News
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Posted: Nov 16, 2011 9:35 PM
WHITE HOUSE NOTEBOOK: More Bieber questions

Even Down Under, President Barack Obama can't escape Bieber Fever.

During Obama's visit to Campbell High School in Australia's capital city, a student asked Obama if he'd consider teaming up with pop singer Justin Bieber or other entertainers to appeal to more people.

"That's an interesting question," Obama told 9th and 10th grade students in the school library. "I interact with a lot of celebrities," he said, noting that different celebrities have supported his presidential campaign.

"But generally speaking, hopefully, if I'm going to be successful, it's going to be because of the ideas I put forward and not because I'm hanging out with Justin Bieber _ although he's a very nice young man and I'll tell him you say hi."

Teenagers have asked Obama about Bieber before. During a bus tour through North Carolina and Virginia in October, a student in Skipwith, Va., asked Obama if he knew the pop star. Obama said he had met Bieber, who performed at last year's White House Easter Egg Roll.

Obama also discovered another connection to star power while he visited the American embassy.

U.S. Ambassador to Australia Jeff Bleich told Obama that action film star Jackie Chan, who has starred in the "Rush Hour" series and a number of kung fu films, grew up in the embassy residence. Bleich told Obama that Chan was the son of an embassy staffer and learned to kickbox during his youth there.

"Who knew?" Obama said, turning to the press corps.

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Known for his way with words, Obama is picking up some Aussie lingo during his travels.

The president has relished trying out quirky Australian slang during his two-day visit here, expressing fondness for the term "ear bashing," which means to talk endlessly.

"I really do love that one and will be introducing that one into the vernacular in Washington," said Obama, who often criticizes his political opponents for favoring talk over action.

The president may also bring home new affectionate terms for first lady Michelle Obama and their two daughters, Sasha and Malia.

Harry Jenkins, the speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, wished Obama a safe return home "to your cheese-and-kisses, that is the misses, the wife."

"And to the billy lids, the kids, your children," Jenkins said to laughter.

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Australian lawmakers were uncharacteristically well-behaved during Obama's address to Parliament _ the first by a U.S. president since George W. Bush was heckled in the same chamber eight years ago.

Without the division of the Iraq war, Obama's reception was universally positive.

In 2003, Sen. Bob Brown, leader of the anti-war minor Greens party, was manhandled by conservative government lawmakers when he heckled and approached Bush during his speech and was banned from Parliament for 24 hours for misbehavior.

On Thursday, Obama approached Brown after speaking and the senator chatted enthusiastically as he shook the president's hand.

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Associated Press writer Rod McGuirk contributed to this report.