President Obama talks about his teenage daughters, Super Bowl and the Pope

Posted at 12:25 PM, Jan 31, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-31 12:25:39-05

WAUKESHA, Wisconsin (CNN) – Approval ratings — and the events that led to the most difficult political year of his presidency — mean very little to President Barack Obama’s daughters.

They are more concerned, he said, with their teenage pursuits.”When we sit down at the dinner table, they have some awareness of what’s going on. And we have great conversations although mostly it’s about history more than about what’s going on right now,” Obama told CNN in an exclusive interview airing Friday.

“But it’s true. Look, they’re teenagers. They’re fully absorbed with their lives, what’s going on at school.”

Still, the girls have managed to meet a great number of people who will have a place in history.

That includes the former Pope, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

It was Obama’s first year in office, when he took his daughters — Sasha and Malia — with him to the Vatican.

“Sasha was still pretty young at the time,” Obama said. “…They see the Sistine Chapel, and they’re going through the various chambers. Each time she’d she somebody dressed up in the cloth, she’d say ‘Is that the pope? Is that the pope?’ How ’bout that guy over there?'”

His answer: “No, no, you’ll know when it is finally the Pope.”

Obama doesn’t know if the girls will be with him when he meets the new leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, later this year.

“I have been really impressed so far with the way he has communicated what I think is the essence of the Christian faith, and that is a true sense of brotherhood and sisterhood and a true sense of regard for those who are less fortunate,” Obama said.

Asked if he might have some advice for the Pope on setting expectations a little lower, the president laughed.

“My suspicion is based on what I’ve seen of him so far, he’s a pretty steady guy. I don’t think he needs any advice from me on staying humble.”

Pope Francis may not need any help with that from the President, but Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman might.

Sherman’s rant following the Seahawks’ win over the San Francisco 49ers, a game that earned him a spot in the Super Bowl, caused a brouhaha after he declared he was the best.

He was ultimately fined more than $7,800 for unsportsmanlike conduct after he made a choking sign at 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“My sense is he’s taking a page out of Muhammad Ali’s playbook, which is, I think he said explicitly, this is a good way to get attention. In fact, Ali said he got his schtick from wrestlers he used to watch,” Obama said.

“…So I think it’s part of the tradition ‘let me get some attention.’ Obviously, it’s worked. I suspect he’s going to have a lot more endorsement contracts and more jersey sales after that.”

CNN gave the President two options of competitions that we wanted him to weigh in on: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vs. Vice President Joe Biden for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination or the Seattle Seahawks vs. the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

“I think it’s going to be a lot like the Seahawks-49ers game. I think it’s going to come down to the last play,” Obama said. “…I’m not going to pick because I don’t want to offend any of the great cities participating.”

Okay so if he’s not going to pick in the Super Bowl than what about Clinton versus Biden?

“I’m too smart for that,” the President said.

Jake Tapper reported from Waukesha, Wisconsin; and Chelsea J. Carter wrote from Atlanta.

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