(AP) WHITE HOUSE NOTEBOOK: Obama’s book giveaway
By BEN FELLER
AP White House Correspondent
SEOUL, South Korea
Looking for a signed copy of President Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope”?
In Korean? (The book, not the signature).
Three business people, five students, a teacher and a North Korean refugee in South Korea won copies of Obama’s personal political manifesto as a prize for submitting questions to the president in advance of his visit to Seoul for an international nuclear summit.
The top three questioners to the “Ask President Obama” competition also got actual replies from the president, including a rare reflection on the favorite speeches that he has delivered.
Not surprisingly, he listed his 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention, an address that immediately made him a national political figure. He also listed his 2008 speech on race, a discourse forced upon him by the controversial sermons of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and his Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo that tried to reconcile the prosecution of just wars with the pursuit of peace.
“I do think that one important message that I’ve tried to carry through many of my speeches is the notion that people can come together to overcome difficult challenge,” Obama wrote in his reply to a question from Bo-yeon Suh, a university student.
Questions that made the finalist cut but that Obama did not answer included, “How do you deal with negative comments about you online?”
Perhaps assuming the president would want to offset those negative comments, another questioner asked: “Have you posted, yourself, a supportive opinion on a website under a disguised name, pretending you are one of the supporters of President Obama?”
That question didn’t make the finalist list.
But it did make an even bigger splash. It made it into Obama’s speech.
“I hadn’t thought of this,” Obama said to laughter, after repeating the question. “But the truth is I have not done this. Maybe my daughters have. But I haven’t done that myself.”
As he often does during foreign travel, Obama sprinkled a few native phrases into his speech. The president told the students that their English is “much better than my Korean. All I can say is, gamsahamnida,” which means “thank you.”
The president concluded his speech by telling the audience, “gatchi gapshida,” which means “let’s go together” in Korean. It’s a slogan used to represent the close ties between the U.S. and South Korean military.
Obama accepted an invitation from outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to visit St. Petersburg. Obama said he planned to make the trip after the 2012 presidential election.
Medvedev was lauded by Obama, who said he couldn’t have asked for a “better partner” in developing a close relationship with Russia. Medvedev departs office this spring when former Russian leader Vladimir Putin assumes the presidency again
Obama ended the meeting by telling Medvedev, “Good luck, my friend.”