Obama: would tell daughters to 'go for it' if wanted to enlist

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President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that he would be proud if his daughters decided to enlist in the U.S. military - but admitted he would worry about them, too.

Obama was asked by a retired U.S. Army colonel at a CNN town hall what he would say to his daughters Malia, 18, and Sasha, 15, if they wanted to serve in the military.

"I'd say, 'Go for it,'" Obama said, describing to the audience at the Fort Lee military base how inspired he has been by the discipline and patriotism in service members he has met during his time as Commander in Chief.

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President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha, center, and Malia, pays for his purchase at the local bookstore Politics and Prose in northwest Washington, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama with her mother Marian Robinson, daughters Sasha Obama, right, and Malia Obama, back right, arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport on Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Beijing, China. (AP Photo/Photo by Feng Li, Pool)
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, front left, her daughters Sasha, front right, Malia, right in the back, and Michelle Obama's mother Marian Robinson, left in the back, arrive at Capital International Airport in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 20, 2014. Michelle Obama has arrived in Beijing with her mother and daughters to kick off a seven-day, three-city tour where she will focus on education and cultural exchange. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan, Pool)
President Barack Obama stands, left, as his daughters Malia and Sasha board Air Force One at Honolulu Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, in Honolulu, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, as they travel back to Washington after their annual family vacation. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
First lady Michelle Obama, right, standing with daughters Malia Obama, center, and Sasha, second from right, receive the official White House Christmas Tree from Leslie and John Wyckoff, left, at the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. The tree was grown by Christopher Botek, a second-generation Christmas tree farmer from Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Pa. Four other trees, all from Wyckoff's Christmas Tree Farm in Belvidere, N.J., will be placed throughout the White House. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha, left, and Malia, makes a joke during remarks at the Thanksgiving tradition of saving a turkey from the dinner table with a "presidential pardon," at the White House on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 in Washington. After the pardoning, the turkey travels to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens where they will be on display for visitors during "Christmas at Mount Vernon." (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama, second from left, and his daughters Malia, left, Sasha, third from left, and mother-in-law Marian Robinson, second from right, watch a basketball game between his brother-in-law Oregon State Beavers Coach Craig Robinson’s team play against the Maryland Terrapins, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
The first family, President Barack Obama, right, first lady Michelle Obama, left, and their daughters Malia, second from right, and Sasha, walk back to the White House from Saint John's Church in Washington, after attending a church service Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, with daughters Sasha and Malia, leave the White House in Washington to board Marine One helicopter, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, as they begin their trip to Senegal, Tanzania, and South Africa. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
US first lady Michelle Obama right, shows her daughter Sasha a crack for placing a rose at the Berlin Wall memorial as the other daughter Malia, left, stands in the back ground, in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2013. US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are on a two-day official visit to Germany. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
The daughters of US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Sasha, left, and Malia, walk to their car after they disembarked from Air Force One at the Tegel airport in Berlin Tuesday, June 18, 2013. Obama arrived for a two-day official visit to Germany. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama watch with their daughters Sasha, left and Malia, second left, during the Inaugural parade in the reviewing stand in front of the White House on Pennsylvania Ave., in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. Thousands marched during the 57th presidential inauguration parade after the ceremonial swearing-in of Obama. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Malia Obama, right, and Sasha Obama look on from the presidential box during the Inaugural parade, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington. Thousands marched during the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade after the ceremonial swearing-in of President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
First lady Michelle Obama, center, and daughters Sasha, left, and Malia, right, react during the Kids' Inaugural: Our Children. Our Future." event in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, as part of the 57th Inauguration weekend of events. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
President Barack Obama walks with daughters Sasha and Malia as they return to the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 21,2 012, after he pardoned Cobbler a 19-week old, 40-pound turkey, on the occasion of Thanksgiving, in the Rose Garden. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha, front left, and Malia, walk from Marine One to board Air Force One at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago, the day after the presidential election. Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

"Now, I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't sometimes get nervous about possible deployments," Obama said. "Your kids are your kids. You want to keep them tucked in their pajamas for the rest of their lives, if you had the chance."

Obama said he would like to see more Americans sign up for military service, particularly "folks who are from higher income brackets" who are "underrepresented" in the military, noting many people no longer have a personal connection to men and women in uniform.

"You start getting like a professional warrior class of one percent and then you get 99 percent who will salute and cheer at a ball game and will honor our veterans on Veterans Day, but beyond that, don't really have that much of a stake," Obama said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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