Entries in The Obamas (3)


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


Gibbs Shares ‘Regret’ for Explosive Michelle Obama Spat

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he regrets losing his cool during an explosive 2010 White House staff meeting, in which he reportedly shouted profanities about the first lady.

Gibbs downplayed the blowup, reported in a new book by New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor, saying in a written statement Tuesday, “in any high-pressure work environment there are occasional arguments and disagreements and that is certainly true of the White House. I regret speaking in anger and regret that this disagreement became so public.”

The incident followed reports that Michelle Obama had told French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy that life in the White House was “hell.” Gibbs spent the morning of Sept. 16, 2010, crafting a response and denying the reports, which the first lady confirmed to be false.

The next morning, however, Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett announced at a staff meeting that the first lady was “dissatisfied” with the way the White House had handled the situation, according to Kantor.

Gibbs reportedly exploded at Jarrett, cursing and using the “F” word to unleash his frustrations with the first lady.

“Like any colleagues, we’ve shared some laughs and we’ve shared some words over the years,” Jarrett said in a statement. “But we have always worked through any disagreements out of mutual respect and in our shared commitment now and in the future to President Obama.”

Going forward, Gibbs said such tense moments, “pale in comparison to the important issues facing our country and will not overshadow the vital work Valerie and I will do together as part of a team in 2012.”

Overall, the White House has branded Kantor’s The Obamas as overhyped. “Books like these generally over-sensationalize things,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday.

“These are high-pressure jobs. There’s always a lot at stake. And the commitment the people show to the president, to the first lady, and to the causes that brought them here is fierce. And sometimes that intensity leads people to raise their voices or have sharp exchanges.

“But the overall picture is one of remarkable collegiality and a genuine focus,” Carney claimed. “This is a remarkably harmonious place, given everything that’s at stake and the enormity of the issues that are discussed and debated here every day.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama’s First Days as First Lady: ‘Alone, Frightened’

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After her husband’s historic win in the 2008 presidential race, Michelle Obama wanted to stay put in Chicago with her girls and not move to the White House, according to The Obamas, a new book by New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor that is scheduled to hit stores on Tuesday.

The book describes Obama as “alone, frightened and unsure of what to do next” during her first days.  She worried about her children bumping into White House tourists during play dates.  Later, she would acknowledge just how tough life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue can be.

“Sometimes it becomes difficult to live in what we call a bubble,” she said, according to the book.

The world watched her on a trip to London in April 2009 when she visited with young girls -- nothing out of the ordinary.

“We are counting on every single one of you to be the very best that you can be,” Obama told them.

But what we didn’t know, according to Kantor’s book, was that Obama was having an epiphany, understanding for the first time through the eyes of those admiring girls what it meant to be first lady.

“She saw the responsibility, the impact, the potential of her role,” Kantor writes.

In the early days, the pressure to both be perfect and look perfect was always on.

“Everyone was waiting for a black woman to make a mistake,” an advisor told Kantor.

Obama examined what she wore, realizing that “everything she wore carried a meaning,” Kantor writes.  Her fashion became strategic, she wore glamorous ensembles at night and more relatable outfits bought at chain stores during the day.

Eventually, former aides say, Obama came to not only embrace, but love her role as first lady.

“It was natural that there would be a period of transition when she and the family went from being a private family in Chicago to the first family of the United States,” former White House deputy communications director Jen Psaki told ABC News.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio