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Obama Stresses Importance of Fatherhood in Weekly Address

June 18 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama, who grew up without his father, today stressed the importance of fatherhood and urged dads to spend time with their children, provide structure and give unconditional love.

“Every father has a personal responsibility to do right by our kids,” the president said in his weekly address on the radio and Internet.

Obama, who was raised by his mother and his maternal grandparents, has used the U.S. celebration of Father’s Day to speak out on the importance of fatherhood in each of his three years as president. Father’s Day this year is tomorrow.

Obama’s father left the family when Obama was a toddler. Obama met his father once after that, when he was 10 years old. Barack Obama Sr. died in an automobile accident in 1982.

“Even though my sister and I were lucky enough to have a wonderful mother and caring grandparents to raise us, I felt his absence,” Obama said. “And I wonder what my life would have been like had he been a greater presence.”

Obama called raising his two daughters his “most rewarding job,” and said other fathers should make sure to spend time with their children.

“More than anything, they just want us to be a part of their lives,” he said. “In the end, that’s what being a parent is all about.”

Trade Accords

In the Republican address, Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota called on the Senate to ratify pending free-trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama.

“Our country needs the kind of pro-jobs, pro-growth policies that will help us live up to our vision of a strong, peaceful, prosperous America,” he said.

The Obama administration has delayed submitting for approval the free-trade accords until lawmakers agree to renew trade aid for workers.

Hoeven said the agreements shouldn’t be delayed while the U.S. experiences high unemployment, which was 9.1 percent last month.

“Free and fair trade agreements can help us create the kind of pro-jobs, pro-growth economy that will lift our nation up,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Johnston in Washington at njohnston3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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