Whether Obama knows or believes this is almost irrelevant. The important point for conservatives to understand is that the demand for pre-K is an appeal to two segments of the population:
- Parents in need of day-care
- Teacher unions
The first could conceivably be won by Republicans. The second seems forever lost.
If Republicans are forced to offer an alternative to universal pre-K, we might consider day-care vouchers for 3-to-5 year-olds.
It's not ideal, but it is a heck of a lot cheaper than pre-K, which would surely require certified teachers with bachelor's degrees and union memberships, not to mention the infrastructure building that would be necessary to cope with another year or two of schooling.
Day-care vouchers would avoid direct subsidies to hostile entities, save money while accomplishing the exact same goal, and introduce parents to the concept of voucher-based subsidy of goods and services, which might come in handy should anybody try to get far with K-12 education vouchers.