At a stop in Hickory, N.C., after promising to spend $18 billion on education, Sen. Obama said: "This money is not going to make a difference if parents don't parent."
He has folded the line into his stump speech across North Carolina and a TV advertisement in the state, where one-third of the Democratic electorate is African-American, ahead of Tuesday's primary.
The ad, called "Turn It Off," shows Sen. Obama in a classroom promising to improve education. "But the truth is, government can't do it all," he says. "As parents, we need to turn off the TV, read to our kids."
The personal-responsibility line typically brings the loudest applause from African-American audiences. Sen. Obama first delivered it in an unscripted moment before a mostly black audience in Beaumont, Texas, in February.
"I got to talk about us a little bit," he said, before chiding parents for feeding their kids junk food and not accepting responsibility for their children's education. Women stood on their chairs, arms in the air, screaming "Tell the truth!" and "Amen!"
Since then, Sen. Obama has made the pitch before audiences of all stripes.
"If you're a parent, you've got to turn off the TV set. Make sure your child is doing their homework.... Have a curfew so your child's not out all hours of the night," he says, before delivering a line that often gets the crowds roaring: "If your child misbehaves in school, don't curse out the teacher."
I couldn't find the "Turn It Off" ad (there was a copy on YouTube, but the video for it was badly distorted), but here's a very similar ad the Obama campaign ran back in December: