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Obama answers viewers' questions in YouTube interview

By Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 27, 2011; 5:39 PM

President Obama is refusing to pick a winner in the Feb. 6 Super Bowl contest, saying that with the defeat of his hometown Chicago Bears in the championship, he is now just letting the competition play out.

"I've got to stay absolutely neutral on this one, and may the best team win," he said Thursday. His comment came in response to a question during a YouTube interview, broadcast live online Thursday afternoon, from a voter who said he was picking the Green Bay Packers over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The rest of the appearance was more sobering. YouTube chose from more than 140,000 questions submitted from viewers about a range of subjects, from the recent unrest in Egypt and Tunisia to the future of American competitiveness. Obama repeated many of his marquee lines from the State of the Union address, responding to a question about what subjects students should be learning: The United States is "going to have to out-build, out-educate, out-innovate every other country."

On Egypt, Obama called on government forces and protestors to refrain from violence, but said Egyptian citizens should "have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances."

"Egypt has been an ally of ours on a lot of critical issues," the president said, citing the nation's peace agreement with Israel and saying that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been "helpful on a range of issues in the Middle East."

"But I've always said to him [that] making sure they are moving forward on reform - economic reform, political reform - is absolutely critical to the long-term well-being of Egypt," he said. "My main hope right now is that violence is not the answer in solving these problems in Egypt. The government has to be careful about not resorting to violence, and the people in the streets have to be careful about not resorting to violence."

One of the most popular questions submitted was about Obama's position on legalizing illicit drugs. He said he still opposes it, but that the White House is looking for ways to emphasize treatment over incarceration.

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