MEXICO CITY — Michelle Obama stepped into a sea of screams, cheers, and squeals of delight that filled the sun-splashed courtyard of an elementary school yesterday in Mexico’s capital. Dozens of 6- to 12-year-olds welcomed her with a show.
One group dressed as Aztecs performed a ritual dance. Another group did calisthenics; Obama’s cause at home is a campaign against childhood obesity. Others entertained with a lively twist-style dance.
Obama joined in at one point, clasping hands and singing along with students at Escuela Siete de Enero, in one of Mexico City’s poorer neighborhoods.
“That was beautiful, everything you did,’’ she said.
The two-day visit is her first to Mexico.
Obama went to Mexico to launch an international effort to engage young people everywhere and encourage them to become leaders and problem-solvers in their communities.
Nearly half the population in Mexico, for example, is younger than 25. Worldwide, people ages 15 to 24 make up 20 percent of the population, she said in a speech that amounted to a call to action.
Addressing some 2,000 invited high school and college students at Universidad Iberoamericana, Obama said ordinary citizens, including young people, must step up to help governments and world leaders solve everything from poverty to climate change.
“The fact is that responsibility for meeting the defining challenges of our time will soon fall to all of you,’’ she said. — Associated Press
Patrick Kennedy, about to retire, returns donations
PROVIDENCE — US Representative Patrick Kennedy has returned about $100,000 to campaign donors since deciding not to run for reelection, including $2,400 to his brother, according to Federal Election Commission files.
The Rhode Island Democrat said Feb. 11 that he would not run again after eight terms in Congress. His father, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, died last year.
He refunded $98,700 in the quarter that ended March 31, including about $66,000 to individuals and $32,000 to political committees. Getting money back were his brother, Edward M. Kennedy Jr., and Mark and Susan Weiner, Democratic Party donors from Rhode Island, who received a total of $4,800. A handful of American Indian tribes received $9,200, and political action committees with ties to labor unions received $16,400.
Kennedy had about $205,000 left at the end of the quarter. — Washington Post
GOP leader’s effort to woo minorities appears stuck
WASHINGTON — The Republican National Committee’s chairman, Michael Steele, under fire from members of his party for what they view as his shortcomings in management and communication, has also made little headway in another area: winning over minority voters.
When Steele took the helm last year, he said expanding the party was one of his main goals. But the vast majority of nonwhite voters are Democrats who generally approve of President Obama.
In a recent Washington Post poll, 23 percent of nonwhite registered voters said they had favorable views of the Republican Party; 72 percent viewed the GOP unfavorably. Those numbers were similar to polls taken in 2008, before Steele took over as RNC chairman.
Beyond a handful of speeches by Steele, there is little evidence the GOP has launched a public relations offensive that would take the party to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings,’’ as Steele has promised. The GOP’s first black chairman, he has made some high-profile moves to woo minority voters.
Yesterday, Steele spoke at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Conference.
“I came into this job thinking that I could pay attention to some communities that have been ignored, taken for granted, or not been respected,’’ Steele said. As he laid out a litany of racial disparities in education, health care, and criminal justice, the activists sat quietly.
Steele’s ability to connect with minority voters, analysts say, has been hampered by his devoting so many of his media appearances to defending himself. — Washington Post
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