Playing tourist and family guy, Obama embraces Brazil's move to democracy as example for world
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Immersing himself in Brazil's poverty and pride, President Barack Obama on Sunday held up the South American nation as a model of democratic change in a time of uprisings and crackdowns across the Arab world and yet another war front for the United States.
From Rio's glamorous beaches to a notorious slum to an elegant theater, Obama glimpsed the city's cultural extremes and offered the kind of personal engagement that can pay political dividends for years. Less than one day after announcing U.S. military strikes against Libya's government, Obama made time to kick a soccer ball around with kids in a shantytown.
The competing stories of Obama's itinerary — a war front in Africa, an economic commitment to South America — divided his time in incongruous ways. By morning, he spoke with his security team about the international assault against Moammar Gadhafi's defenses; by night, he was to stand atop a mountain and admire Rio's world famous statue of Jesus.
Meanwhile, U.S. warplanes pounded faraway Libya.
It was all summed up by one image: Obama, adeptly juggling a soccer ball, as his aides helped him juggle his agenda.