It had been seven years since President Barack Obama visited South Carolina, but it only took one question for a 10-year-old from Sumter to steal the spotlight.
Trace Adams told Obama that he was considering becoming president one day, causing the two-term Democratic president to respond: “I might just be warming up the seat for you.”
Afterward, Adams said speaking to the president was like a dream come true. “It changed my future,” said the son of Sumter County Democratic Party chairman Allen Bailey.
Bailey said he and his son had “no clue” Trace was going to get called on by Obama.
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Seated in the crowd at Columbia’s Benedict College, the two were trying to come up with ways for Trace to get noticed by the president – since they assumed he would call on a child, Bailey said.
Then Obama did call on Trace. After the boy introduced himself, telling the president he is in fourth grade, Obama responded: “You’re a tall guy.”
Then Trace asked the big question: “… I was just wondering: When you were interested in being a president?”
Obama said it wasn’t when he was 10. “Are you thinking about it?”
“A little bit,” Trace said.
“You’re definitely ahead of me,” Obama said, telling Trace he would have “to wait until you’re 35 – that’s in the Constitution — so you’ve got at least 25 years to prepare.”
Obama said when he was 10, he wasn’t thinking about being president. Instead, he was interested in being an architect or, later, a basketball player. “It turned out I was too slow and I couldn’t jump.”
Obama advised Trace to work hard in school, get involved in service projects and graduate from college.
Trace handled his instant fame without flinching, posing with S.C. Democrats, who wanted to take photos with him.
Former state Rep. Bakari Sellers of Bamberg, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in November, wrapped his arms around Trace. Then the two posed for a photo.
S.C. House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, also said he was impressed by Trace.
Rutherford said that when he was 10, he would have stood in shock if the president had called on him. “The poise that he had was just unbelievable.”
Trace also stayed poised as he fielded interviews from media.
Meanwhile, his father stood by proud and becoming emotional as he watched his son in the spotlight. “I’m going to start crying,” Bailey said.
The Sumter County Democratic Party chairman said he and Trace are fans of Obama.“We love the president,” Bailey said. “We support the president.”
But the commander-in-chief gig might not be the only job that Trace is interested in. “I would … like to be the president and maybe be in the FBI as well,” Trace said. “I’ve been interested in that for a while.”