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Who's talking about Sasha, Malia? It's dad, again

President Obama isn't just another dad shooting the breeze about his kids' antics. He's the President, and he brings up his daughters to explain his thinking on all sorts of combustible issues.

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In this Nov. 2011 photo President Barack Obama visits Kramerbooks for shopping with his daughters Sasha, and Malia in Washington.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

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Barack Obama likes to talk about his kids. What parent doesn't?

But Obama isn't just another dad shooting the breeze about his kids' antics in last night's soccer game. He's the president, and he brings up his daughters to explain his thinking on all sorts of combustible national issues.

He's cited Sasha and Malia, now 10 and 13, in discussing everything from the rescue of an American aid worker from Somali pirates to the touchy subject of public access to emergency contraception. His daughters also are prominent in a family photo being used by his re-election campaign.

Most recently, Obama brought up his daughters when asked about conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh's reference to college student Sandra Fluke as a "slut" after she testified that birth control should be covered by insurance.

Obama said at a news conference that he'd called Fluke after Limbaugh made his comments "because I thought about Malia and Sasha, and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way, and I don't want them attacked or called horrible names because they're good citizens."

Obama talks fatherhood - and why he helps coach Sasha's basketball team

Invoking his daughters is a way for Obama to bring big issues down to human scale, in a disarming way. It also is a reminder to Americans of the president's photogenic family, a priceless political asset in an election year.

The Obamas can be fiercely protective of their daughters' privacy in some ways, complaining if the girls are photographed while out on their own, for example. But they've been more than willing to keep bringing them up in the national conversation and to keep them in the minds of voters as the general election approaches.

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