Entries in First Lady (28)


First Lady Tracks Santa from Hawaii

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(HONOLULU) -- While President Obama is spending this Christmas Eve afternoon golfing in Kaneohe Bay, the First Lady Michelle Obama has been hard at work helping children from across the country track Santa's every move.

The First Lady spent roughly 30 minutes answering calls from children asking where Santa was located as part of the annual NORAD Tracks Santa program run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, according to a White House official.

The NORAD Tracks Santa program began in 1955 after a phone call was made to the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The call was from a local youngster who dialed a misprinted telephone number in a local newspaper advertisement. The commander on duty who answered the phone that night gave the youngster the information requested - the whereabouts of Santa. This began the tradition of tracking Santa, a tradition that was carried on by NORAD when it was formed in 1958.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


First Lady Honors Top After-School Arts Programs

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- The nation's top extracurricular programs for the arts and humanities were honored Monday in an awards ceremony at the White House. First lady Michelle Obama presided over the event, as the honorary chair of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

Twelve programs from around the country were recognized for what Mrs. Obama called "those pushing and inspiring" children, "revealing their boundless promise, and teaching them to believe in themselves."

The committee's National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are the country's highest honor for organizations that cater to education in the arts. Many of the awards recipients focused on serving low-income communities.

"You make all this happen on shoestring budgets; you do it in unbelievable ways, in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable," the first lady said. "And I know that you put a lot of late nights and long hours into giving these kids opportunities worthy of their promise."

Obama told the room of program organizers and their star pupils that in addition to building a child's self-esteem, the team work and problem-solving skills offered by the programs had real-world applications students would use in college and the workplace.

"That’s why it is so critical that we preserve arts education in our schools," she said. "It is absolutely critical because we know how important it is for our children’s development.  We all know."

Several programs stood out for originality. One program out of San Fernando, Calif., paired Grammy award-winning band Mariachi Los Camperos with students of primarily Mexican descent in instructional experience to preserve the genre.

Dressed in bright blue mariachi attire, the youths performed in the East Room with a backdrop painting of George Washington.

It's been "an amazing experience," the group's violinist later told ABC News. Sixteen-year-old Cesar Zuniga has dreams of Stanford University but wants to bring the genre with him.

"At first I wasn't sure if this was what I wanted to do," he said. "But after I started going to these lessons and all the performances I actually started liking it a lot."

Another program out of Oakland, Youth Radio, provided media arts and journalism training to underserved youths, including internship opportunities. The New York City Urban Debate League was also present for the ceremony. Since 1997 the organization has taught civics and public policy to under-served regional schools.

A Chinese delegation was also recognized. The "100 Dong Songs Program" is dedicated to preserving the culture of the Dong people of western China, whose oral traditions have struggled under globalization.

Monday was the first lady's first public speaking engagement since President Obama won reelection. In her parting remarks she urged the youths to keep the programs alive for the next generation.

"It’s not enough just to receive these gifts and blessings, but to understand that you are blessed and your job now is to pass it on, to find someone in your life that you are going to mentor, that you are going to pull up," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obamas to Mark 20th Anniversary Before Debate

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(DENVER) -- As the clock ticks down to Wednesday night’s debate, President Obama will enjoy some downtime at his local hotel and the first opportunity to see his wife Michelle on their 20th wedding anniversary.

The president, arriving from Las Vegas, will reunite at the hotel with Mrs. Obama, who is coming in from Reno, campaign aides tell ABC News.  The first lady did not attend her husband’s intensive three-day debate camp in Henderson, Nev.

Michelle Obama told the ladies of ABC’s The View last month that she plans to formally celebrate the marriage milestone with her husband on Saturday back in Washington. But aides would not rule out the possibility of a low-key celebratory dinner for the two Wednesday night at their Denver hotel.

The Obamas are expected to arrive at the debate venue together around 6:25 p.m. MT/8:25 p.m. ET.  Mrs. Obama will take her seat at 6:44 p.m. MT/8:44 p.m. ET and will be introduced second, after Ann Romney.

Aides to the president have been tight-lipped about any pre-debate rituals he might have backstage, but described his mindset and attitude Wednesday as very focused and “even-keeled.”

Obama, who has a well-known competitive instinct, is eager to get out there and perform, they told ABC News.  He told supporters on Monday in Henderson that debate prep has been “a drag” and that he’s been cooped up, having to do his “homework” -- signs he’s itching to move on.

In keeping with his daily routine, the president worked out in the gym at the Westin Lake Las Vegas Wednesday morning and received the Presidential Daily Briefing. He did not interact with any voters Wednesday, making no unexpected stops in Vegas or Denver.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama Tunes Out RNC, Tells Voters to Tune In

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- First lady Michelle Obama said she has not watched any of the 2012 Republican National Convention; aides to her husband, President Obama, said he hasn’t either.

But Michelle Obama told Late Show host David Letterman Wednesday night that “it’s very important for everyone to watch as much of both conventions as possible.”

“Let me start by saying I, as the wife of the guy they’re running against, I tend not to watch it, but I think it’s important for everyone to watch these conventions because this is the time you get to know the party, you understand the platform, you understand the candidates,” Obama said, according to advance excerpts of her appearance released by the show.

Her late-night appearance -- set to air Wednesday following primetime convention coverage and a televised address by Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan -- was primarily aimed at younger and women voters whom the Obama campaign has been courting all week.

Democrats have been urging both constituencies to pay close attention to the GOP convention and the party platform, which they described as “extreme.”

Letterman asked the first lady about recent controversial comments by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, who falsely claimed in an interview last week that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant.

“When you have a guy, and I don’t want to embarrass anybody … like Todd Akin, and, for whatever reason, he says something that he wishes he hadn’t said, and there’s some embarrassment, is it a big deal?  Is it not a big deal?” Letterman asked. “I don’t know, dumb guys are allowed to say dumb things?”

“That’s how guys are,” Michelle Obama joked.

Asked whether she and the president ever talked privately about Akin or other politicians who say “dumb things,” the first lady was coy.

“There are moments when there are interesting things that happen, and we discuss them,” she said. “There are times.”

Obama’s sit-down with Letterman, billed by the White House as an “official” appearance to promote her nutrition and fitness initiatives, was her third in as many years.

While in New York City Wednesday, the first lady also taped episodes of The Dr. Oz Show and Rachael Ray that will air in September, the administration said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama Sees Long, Hard Campaign with ‘Twists and Turns’

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- Stumping Wednesday at one of her first solo public campaign rallies of the year, first lady Michelle Obama didn’t utter the word "Wisconsin" or discuss Democrats’ defeat in that state after months of organizing to oust Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

But her message to supporters, in the wake of what transpired a thousand miles from there, could not have been clearer: the 2012 race is going to be a grinding fight that will require more passion and commitment from Democrats than it ever has before.

“I am not going to kid you: this journey is going to be long, and it is going to be hard, and there will be plenty of twists and turns along the way,” Obama told the crowd of 1,100 packed into the National Constitution Center.

“But just remember that’s how change always happens in this country. And if we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight, eventually we get there, we always do,” she said.

The first lady implored her audience to take a close look at her husband’s record -- steady private sector job growth, the resurgent auto industry, health care reform and end to the war in Iraq -- and “get out there and remind people.”

“We need you to tell them about it, but we also need people to know that all of this and so much more is at stake in November,” she said.

“It all boils down to one simple question: will we continue the change we’ve begun and the progress we’ve made, or will we let everything we’ve fought for slip away.”

“Convince them with every ounce of energy in your soul to join you in giving a little part of your life each week to this campaign,” she said later.

Mrs. Obama attested to her husband’s character, calling him an “extraordinary man.” And though she never mentioned presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, she suggested the president is the only candidate in the race who understands what it means to be middle class.

“When there’s a choice between protecting our rights and our freedoms, you know where Barack stands,” Obama said in an impassioned flourish. “And when we need a leader to make the hard decisions to keep this country moving forward, you know you can count on my husband, your president.”

Mrs. Obama’s visit to Pennsylvania, her third of the year, underscores the importance of the state to her husband’s electoral road map.

President Obama carried Pennsylvania in 2008 by 11 points over John McCain -- 55 to 44 percent -- and its 20 electoral votes would be a significant pickup on the path to 270.

A new poll by Franklin & Marshall College shows Obama leading Romney by 12 points there, 48 to 36 percent, with 12 percent of voters undecided.

“The president enjoys significant advantages over Mitt Romney in his personal popularity and most voters believe he is better prepared to handle the presidency even though they are ambivalent about some of his major policy initiatives,” the poll said in a press release.   The survey, conducted May 29 to June 4, has a margin of error of 4.8 points.

But Democrats aren’t taking anything for granted, especially with Obama’s underwater favorability rating and weak numbers on his handling of the economy in the latest poll.

Sixty-one percent of voters in the Franklin & Marshall poll said Obama has done only fair or poor on the economy; 38 percent said good or excellent.

“In the end this could come down to the last few thousand people that we register to vote,” Mrs. Obama said Wednesday. “It could all come down to those last few people we help get to the polls on November 6.”

Elaine Tomlin, a neighborhood team leader for Obama’s campaign, said the first lady’s message is exactly what Democrats in Pennsylvania need to hear.

“We’ve been phone banking since July of last year. We’re a big team in Philly and we know we’re going to need an army with the obstacles put out there with the voter ID law,” Tomlin said.

“We know what we have to do. Even though the GOP has the dollars, we have the grassroots campaign. And it’s one person, one vote. It’s our goal to have turn out be very high,” she said.

The first lady is back on the campaign trail on Thursday with another grassroots rally in Woodbridge, Va.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


First Lady Says Election Could Hinge on ‘Few Thousand Folks’

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Seeking to build a sense of urgency for November, first lady Michelle Obama told a group of 400 campaign supporters in Iowa Tuesday that the election could come down to only a “few thousand folks.”

“I just want you to remember that in the end, this all could come down to those last few thousand people that we register to vote. It could all come down to those few thousand folks we need to help to get to the polls in November,” the first lady told the crowd of volunteers at a community center in Windsor Heights, a Des Moines suburb.

“I have said this before, Iowa, and you’ve heard me say it. He cannot do this alone. He needs you to help him,” she said.

Obama’s visit to the Hawkeye State -- her second of the year -- aimed to boost the campaign’s efforts to keep blue what is seen by both parties as a key battleground.

President Obama’s campaign has opened eight Iowa field offices and has volunteers organizing in each of 99 counties, officials said.

While Michelle Obama did not single out Mitt Romney by name, she exhorted her husband’s Hawkeye State surrogates to emphasize his “core” of values when appealing to voters.

“All you have to guide you are your values and your vision and your life experiences,” she said. "In the end when you’re making those impossible choices, it all boils down to who you are and what you stand for -- and we all know who my husband is.”

As she did at a campaign fundraiser in Omaha, Neb., earlier in the day, Obama told supporters the stakes in the election are high, with the administration’s accomplishments “all on the line.”

“That’s what you need to tell people with ever door you knock on, with every call you make, with every conversation you have. You need to tell people our values. Tell them everything that’s at stake next November,” she said.

“You tell them how Barack was for tax cuts for working families and small businesses....Remember Barack had the backs of American workers.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


On Iraq War Anniversary, First Lady Solicits Veterans to Campaign

Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- First lady Michelle Obama, whose advocacy for veterans and their families has defined her tenure in the White House, is now appealing to the constituency for political support for a second Obama term.

In a new campaign Web video pegged to the one-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, Obama touts her husband’s “promises kept” to veterans and solicits new members to the group “Veterans and Military Families for Obama,” which is tasked with mobilizing voters and collecting campaign cash.

“Nine years later, we remember those who gave their lives and honor the sacrifice of all the brave women and men who served our country,” Obama says. “In 2008, Barack made a promise that as president he would bring the Iraq war to a responsible end. He kept his word.”

The first lady says President Obama has done “everything we can” to support veterans as they transition to civilian life, including boosting the Veterans Affairs budget, increasing access to health care, expanding job training programs and enacting new tax credits for businesses that hire wounded service members.

“I hope you’ll join me in standing up for all those who have served. Visit to get involved and to learn about all the ways your president is working to support veterans and military families,” she says.

Monday night the first lady will appear on Late Show with David Letterman to promote her Joining Forces initiative and her plans for its upcoming one-year anniversary in April.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Kennedy Documents: The View From First Lady’s Eyes

CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It was 50 years ago this week that the American people were taken inside the White House and given a first-of-its-kind televised tour of the executive mansion.

The  tour guide that day was none other than the first lady herself, Jacqueline Kennedy. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the broadcasts, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has released the first portion of Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal papers.

The historical documents not only show how the first lady prepared for the broadcast, but also her desire to restore the White House shortly after her husband took office.

“These new documents demonstrate her work as first lady, her legendary attention to detail and the incredible range of her understanding of art, history and public diplomacy,” said Tom Putnam, the director of the Kennedy Library, in a statement.

It started in November 1961, when the first lady decided that, as a national symbol, the White House needed to be restored in a way that reflected its historical and cultural significance to the country.

In an interview with Hugh Sidey of Life magazine in September of that year, Jacqueline Kennedy said, “All these people come to see the White House, and they see practically nothing that dates back before 1948. Everything in the White House must have a reason for being there. It would be sacrilege merely to ‘redecorate’ it -- a word I hate. It must be restored -- and that has nothing to do with decoration. That is a question of scholarship.”

The documents reveal how such sentiments motivated the first lady to form the White House Historical Association and Fine Arts Committee, whose task was to restore the interior of the White House to evoke the style of past presidents and first families while keeping mindful of the future generations that would occupy America’s most popular structure.

“No first lady had taken on a project like that in the era of television,” said ABC News’ Cokie Roberts. “Dolley Madison was really the first person to furnish the White House, and it was an enormous undertaking.”

The documents, which Caroline Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr., donated to the Kennedy Library, reveal the first lady’s dedication to all aspects of the project -- from the artwork to the furniture to the fabric for the curtains in the Oval Office.

She set a precedent for all future first ladies to come. “They feel very, very strongly that they are the custodians of a historic monument. And they are privileged to be there, even though as difficult as it is,” said ABC’s Roberts.

After a year of restoration, the first lady’s hard work would be displayed to the nation. Jacquelilne Kennedy invited a television crew into the White House for a tour of the newly renovated executive mansion. They show the first lady’s hands-on approach to the restoration and the TV project: She sent notes to the show’s producers, commenting on the script and highlighting details she wanted to talk about on TV.

On  Feb. 14, 1962, the televised tour aired and Jacqueline Kennedy welcomed the world into her home.  The show was syndicated across the globe and delivered a record audience of 80 million viewers.

As she had countless times before,  Jacqueline Kennedy captivated, and the White House was changed forever. “It became the museum of beautiful furniture and art that it is today and will forever be,” said Roberts.

The broadcast even earned Jacqueline Kennedy an honorary Emmy. It is on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, along with the newly released historical documents that give a brief but intimate look into the idealized world of Camelot.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama: The President ‘Sings to Me All the Time’

The White House(BURBANK, Calif.) -- First lady Michelle Obama said her husband -- a recent singing sensation -- doesn’t hesitate to “show off his lungs” and sings to her all the time.

President Obama proved his vocal ability when he sang a few lines of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” at a campaign event earlier this month.

‪”That was completely spontaneous,” Mrs. Obama told Jay Leno in an interview on NBC’s The Tonight Show Tuesday night.  “I didn’t even hear about it until it got on YouTube, but he does have a beautiful voice, and he sings to me all the time.” ‪

While the first lady admitted, “I can’t sing,” she said the president doesn’t “hesitate to show off his lungs to his wife.  He’s good.” ‪

“Let’s Stay Together” is apparently one of the president’s signature songs.

“I knew when people said he sang, I thought I’ll bet he sang Al Green,” Mrs. Obama said.  “He sings a lot of Al Green, Marvin Gaye, a little Stevie [Wonder].  He likes the classics.” ‪

First daughters Malia and Sasha, however, may not be big fans of their dad’s public crooning.

“Anything we do is highly embarrassing.  They just want us to be very quiet, very quiet,” Mrs. Obama said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


First Lady Responds to Reports of Friction with White House Advisers

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In Michelle Obama’s first response to reports of friction between her and the president’s top advisers, the first lady said that if she disagreed with a White House decision, “I would talk to my own husband about it.”

In an interview with Gayle King, Obama conceded that she is “not an expert on most of the issues that [the president] is dealing with on a daily basis.”

“I am one of his biggest confidants, but he has dozens of really smart people who surround him,” she said. “I want him and he wants to be talking to the people with the best information. That’s not to say that we don’t have discussions and conversations. That’s not to say that my husband doesn’t know how I feel.”

A new book by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor out Tuesday depicts the first lady as a powerful behind-the-scenes player in her husband’s administration. However, the book, entitled The Obamas, also says that there was frustration and tension between Obama and her husband’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

“One thing is true, that I talk very candidly to my husband about how I feel, but that’s the kind of relationship we have,”  Obama told King. “I wouldn’t go to Rahm about something that I would talk to my husband about. If I didn’t agree with something, I would talk to my own husband about it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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