Eleanor Rosalynn Carter/ Hillary Clinton/ Michelle Obama
I was ambushed today by a Clinton hater and the only thing that this person could come up with was the money that the Clintons get for speaking
and the cloths being worn by Hillary, I think while she was “First Lady?”
So let’s start this posting with a little First Lady information?
For starters I offer you these last three Democratic First Ladies.
Eleanor Rosalynn Carter/ Hillary Clinton/ Michelle Obama
I’ll ask you now before you get blood shot eyes!
Eleanor Rosalynn Carter (née Smith; August 18, 1927)
First Lady of Georgia
After helping her husband win the governorship of Georgia in 1970, Rosalynn decided to focus her attention on the field of mental health as First Lady of Georgia. It was her main focus. She was appointed to the Governor’s Commission to Improve Services for the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped. Many of the Commission’s recommendations were approved and became law. She also served as a volunteer at the Georgia Regional Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, and for four years was honorary chairperson for the Georgia Special Olympics. Carter called her aid for the mentally disabled children her proudest achievement as First Lady of Georgia. Among wives of the governors she was considered a model and was revered for her traits and appearance. Her activities included entertaining as many as 75 people a week at the Governor’s Mansion.
First Lady of the United States
The First Family, Rosalynn, Jimmy and Amy on the south lawn in front of the White House, July 24, 1977
In January 1977, Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter walked hand-in-hand down Pennsylvania Avenue during his presidential inauguration parade. For the inaugural balls, she wore the same gown she had worn six years earlier at the balls in Atlanta when her husband became governor.
Rosalynn Carter chairs a meeting in Chicago, IL. for the President’s Commission on Mental Health on April 20, 1977.
Rosalynn declared that she had no intention of being a traditional First Lady of the United States. During her husband’s administration, Rosalynn supported her husband’s public policies as well as his social and personal life. In order to remain fully informed, she sat in on Cabinet meetings at the invitation of the President. The first meeting she attended was on February 28, 1977, where she felt comfortable since she was among other officials that were not members of the unit. The idea for her to be in attendance came from her husband’s suggestion after she started to question him about a news story.
She wrote notes, but never spoke. As she put it, “I was there to be informed so that when I traveled across the country, which I did a great deal, and was questioned by the press and other individuals about all areas of government, I’d know what was going on.” When the cultural exchange program Friendship Force International launched at the White House on March 1, 1977, she became honorary chairperson, a position she held until 2002. She joined Lady Bird Johnson and Betty Ford in supporting the unsuccessful campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) at the Houston conference celebrating the International Women’s Year in 1977. Rosalynn Carter served as an active honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health. On behalf of the Mental Health System Bill, enacted in 1980, she testified before a Senate committee, the second First Lady to appear before the Congress (the first being Eleanor Roosevelt). Of her priorities, mental health was the highest. Working to change the nature of government assistance to the mentally ill, Carter wanted to allow people to be comfortable admitting their disabilities without fear of being called crazy.
For Christmas 1977, she decorated the White House’s Christmas tree with ornaments from pine cones, peanuts and egg shells. On July 27, 1978, Carter was the host of “First Lady’s Employment Seminar”. 200-300 delegates came and shared information to learn how other communities responded to unemployment. Rosalynn remembered 1979 and 1980 as years of never-ending crises, the years having “Big ones and small ones, potential disasters and mere annoyances.” By the time she had held the office of First Lady for two years, Time magazine called her the “second most powerful person in the United States.” Carter was cited by her husband as an equal partner many times, even called her a “perfect extension of myself.”
First Lady Rosalynn Carter (right) with Waylon Jennings (smoking a cigarette) and Jessi Colter at a reception preceding a concert to benefit the Carter-Mondale campaign on April 23, 1980.
Despite finding time to entertain, the Carters never were able to match their immediate predecessors and Rosalynn never considered it a major part of her job as First Lady. Criticism came towards her role as First Lady by a U.S. diplomat in Brazil, who insisted that women were meant to be kept “at home and that’s all.” The cultural factor had also caused many to oppose her trip. Critics called her too programmed and disciplined while others said she lacked admirable qualities of Lady Bird Johnson and Betty Ford. Despite this, Rosalynn was pleased by her viewed role as a demanding First Lady and remembered the times of presidents’ wives being “confined” to “official hostess” and other demeaning roles. In efforts to advance the appearance of the White House, she accumulated American paintings. In the last few months of her husband’s presidency, Rosalynn was confident that she and her husband would be able to defeat Ronald Reagan in the general election. On her birthday, she saw polls that showed they were gaining on Reagan, whose previous lead of 25 percent had decreased to 7. Her husband’s loss came shortly after the passing of the Mental Health System Act, which sought to do much of what she had wished for during her tenure. However, after Reagan was elected, she reflected “funding of our legislation was killed, by the philosophy of a new President. It was a bitter loss.” Despite the defeat, she was happy over the Iran hostages finally being able to come home the day of his inauguration.
Rosalynn represented President Carter in meetings with domestic and foreign leaders, most notably as an envoy to Latin America in 1977. She purposely scheduled so as not to have meetings with any of the heads of state. Rosalynn also led a delegation to Thailand in 1979 to address the problems of Cambodian and Laotian refugees. She examined camps where Cambodian refugees had fled to avoid the combat between the Vietnamese troops and the government of Pol Pot. Helping the refugees, particularly the children, became a special cause for her. She returned to the United States and played a prominent role in speeding up a large appeal for assistance after being affected by the suffering she witnessed during her visit. By the time she had returned, however, her husband met with families of the hostages in Iran. They were more concerned for what they needed to do to get them out over being worried about whether or not they would ever get out
She has for decades been a leading advocate for numerous causes, perhaps most prominently for mental health research.
She was politically active during her White House years, sitting in on Cabinet and policy meetings as well as serving as her husband’s closest adviser. She also served as an envoy abroad, to Latin America in particular.
First Lady, Hillary Clinton
1993, January 20 – 2001, January 20
45 years old
Within the first five days of becoming First Lady, Hillary Clinton was named by her husband to head the President’s Task Force on Health Care Reform, overseeing research, investigatory trips, financial reports, numerous committees composed of medical and insurance professionals, lawmakers and other government officials, public service leaders, and consumer rights advocates. In this capacity, she became the third First Lady to testify before Congress, appearing to the House committee on health insurance reform in September 1993. When the plan devised was attacked as too complicated or an intention leading to “socialized medicine” the Administration decided not to push for a vote and it never came to a vote in the Senate or House, abandoned in September, 1994. Hillary Clinton’s interest in the subject, however, had helped raise national consciousness about the problem of citizens who lived without any medical insurance and she began to address an assortment of other medical problems facing many citizens. Perhaps the most successful component of her accomplishments as First Lady was initiating the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997, a federal effort that provided state support for those children whose parents were unable to provide them with health coverage. She also successfully sought to increase the research funding for illnesses such as prostate cancer and childhood asthma at the National Institute of Health. The First Lady also gave voice to the illnesses that were affecting veterans of the Gulf War, with the possibility of their suffering the toxic side effects of chemical “Agent Orange” used in warfare.
Although she assumed a less open political role after the failure of the health care reform plan, the efforts on behalf of which she focused were fully public. She cited the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 as the achievement she initiated and shepherded that provide her with the greatest satisfaction. Beginning with an article she wrote on orphaned children in 1995, through a series of public events on the issue, policy meetings with Health and Human Service officials, private foundation leaders, the drafting of policy recommendations, and eventually lobbying with legislators led to its passage. The First Lady led a second effort, the Foster Care Independence bill, to help older, unadopted children transition to adulthood. She also hosted numerous White House conferences that related to children’s health, including early childhood development (1997) and school violence (1999). She lent her support to programs ranging from “Prescription for Reading,” in which pediatricians provided free books for new mothers to read to their infants as their brains were rapidly developing, to nationwide immunization against childhood illnesses. She also supported an annual drive to encourage older women to seek a mammography to prevent breast cancer, coverage of the cost being provided by Medicare.
Hillary Clinton was the only First Lady to keep an office in the West Wing among those of the president’s senior staff. While her familiarity with the intricate political issues and decisions faced by the President, she openly discussed his work with him, yet stated that ultimately she was but one of several individuals he consulted before making a decision. They were known to disagree. Regarding his 1993 passage of welfare reform, the First Lady had reservations about federally supported childcare and Medicaid. When issues that she was working on were under discussion at the morning senior staff meetings, the First Lady often attended. Aides kept her informed of all pending legislation and oftentimes sought her reaction to issues as a way of gauging the President’s potential response. Weighing in on his Cabinet appointments and knowing many of the individuals he named, she had working relationships with many of them. She persuaded Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin to convene a meeting of corporate CEOs for their advice on how companies could be persuaded to adopt better child care measures for working families. With Attorney General Janet Reno, the First Lady helped to create the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women office. One of her closest Cabinet allies was Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Following her international trips, Hillary Clinton wrote a report of her observations for Albright. A primary effort they shared was globally advocating gender equity in economics, employment, health care and education. During her trips to Africa (1997), Asia (1995), South America (1995, 1997) and the Central European former Soviet satellite nations (1997, 1998), Hillary Clinton emphasized “a civil society,” of human rights as a road to democracy and capitalism. The First Lady was also one of the few international figures at the time who spoke out against the treatment of Afghani women by Islamist fundamentalist Taliban that had seized control of Afghanistan. One of the programs she helped create was Vital Voices, a U.S.-sponsored initiative to promote the participation of international women in their nation’s political process. One result of the group’s meetings, in Northern Ireland, was drawing together women leaders of various political factions that supported the Good Friday peace agreement that brought peace to that nation long at civil war. Hillary Clinton was also an active supporter of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), often awarding its micro-loans to small enterprises begun by women in developing nations that aided the economic growth in their impoverished communities. Certainly one of her more important speeches as First Lady addressing the need for equal rights for women was international in scope and created controversy in the nation where it was made: the September 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.
Hillary Clinton had encountered controversy from practically the beginning of her tenure.
By her having assuming a more overtly political role than any of her predecessors, Hillary Clinton was an easy target for the political opposition; oftentimes it was she personally that was attacked, beyond the words she spoke or actions she took. Much as Nancy Reagan had served as a target for her husband’s opponents, so too did Hillary Clinton become a target for those who disagreed with the Administration. The American Conservative Union, for example, solicited money to fight what they termed the First Lady’s “radical agenda.” Not all of the controversy she engendered, however, was political. The same New York Times columnist, William Safire, who had attacked Nancy Reagan, now attacked Hillary Clinton. Much like Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady she most emulated and had studied, Hillary Clinton expected the partisan attacks as a result of activism. Like Eleanor Roosevelt, she wrote a newspaper column, a weekly syndicated piece, and made hundreds of speeches, oftentimes without notes. Also like Eleanor Roosevelt, she authored books during her tenure. For the spoken word version of her book regarding family policies, It Takes a Village, Hillary Clinton was the recipient of the recording industry’s Grammy Award.
Just five months into the Administration, with the firing of the White House travel office staff, followed to months later by the suicide of Vincent Foster, White House counsel and friend and former law partner of the First Lady, Hillary Clinton found herself implicated in numerous investigations. At the end of 1993, a story broke in the media that a Justice Department investigation into a failed Arkansas real estate venture, concerning a potential development in the Ozarks called “Whitewater,” mentioned her as a potential witness in the inquiry; there were immediate suggestions in the opposition press that she had somehow illegally profited. There was similar media speculation when it was disclosed that she had greatly profited in trading cattle futures through an experienced investor. All of this concerned matters long past to the 1992 campaign and the First Lady held an April 22, 1994 press conference in which she explained the details as proof of her not having taken any illegal actions. Political pressure, however, led to the President’s appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the charges, a move the First Lady opposed. On January 26, 1996, she testified before a grand jury concerning the Whitewater scandal. Over time, the parameters of the investigation would enlarge to include other charges made against the President and First Lady that were questionable in their validity. In every case, the investigations led to no criminal charges against Hillary Clinton. In time, the personal behavior of the President during an illicit affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky would be the only charge in which he would be found guilty, leading to the historic articles of impeachment brought against him in late 1998, of which he was acquitted in February of 1999. During the Lewinsky scandal, Hillary Clinton supported her husband’s contentions of innocence regarding marital infidelity, believing the rumors, along with the other charges, to be the result of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” In August 1998, however, when independent counsel Kenneth Starr questioned the President directly in the White House, he confessed that he had lied regarding the extent of the affair. Hillary Clinton later admitted to being deeply wounded personally yet focusing on the public repercussions of the President’s disclosure, made a strong statement of commitment to him and the Administration, believing a private matter had been wrong turned into a political attack. Her support of him at that critical juncture was believed by many media commentators at that emotionally heightened time to be an important factor, if not the greatest factor, in preventing a call for his resignation.
Hillary Clinton did not ignore the traditional role of First Lady. With a lifelong interest in regional American history, she initiated the Save America’s Treasures program, a national effort that matched federal funds to private donations to rescue from deterioration and neglect, or restore to completion many iconic historic items and sites, including the flag which inspired the Star Spangled Banner, and the National First Ladies Historic Site in Canton, Ohio. As part of the Millennium Project which she initiated, monthly lectures that considered both America’s past and forecasted its future were held in the East Room, and one of these became the first live simultaneous webcast from the mansion. In the White House, she initiated the first Sculpture Garden, which displayed large contemporary American works of art loaned from museums in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden on a rotating basis. In the White House state rooms, she placed on rotating display the donated handicrafts (pottery, glassware, etc.) of contemporary American artisans. She oversaw the restoration of the Blue Room on the state floor, and the redecoration of the Treaty Room into the President’s study on the second floor. Using a unique venue of large white tents on the South Lawn that could accompany several thousand guests, she hosted many large entertainments, such as a St. Patrick’s Day reception, a state dinner for visiting Chinese dignitaries, and a contemporary music concert that raised funds for music education in the public schools. For all the foods served in the White House, she hired a chef whose expertise was in American regional cooking. She also hosted a massive New Year’s Eve party on the turning of the 20th century into the 21st century, as well as the November 2000 Bicentennial of the White House state dinner, an event at which more former Presidents and First Ladies were gathered together in the mansion than at any other time in its history.
In 1999, Hillary Clinton formed an exploratory committee to pursue the possibility of running for the U.S. Senate seat to bevacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan (New York Democrat) and she officially declared herself a candidate for the position several months later. On November 7, 2000, Hillary Clinton became the first First Lady ever elected to public office, winning the U.S. Senate seat from New York State.
First Lady Michelle Obama of the United States
During her early months as First Lady, Obama visited homeless shelters and soup kitchens. She also sent representatives to schools and advocated public service.
Obama advocated for her husband’s policy priorities by promoting bills that support it. She hosted a White House reception for women’s rights advocates in celebration of the enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 Pay equity law. She supported the economic stimulus bill in visits to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and United States Department of Education. Some observers looked favorably upon her legislative activities, while others said that she should be less involved in politics. According to her representatives, she intends to visit all United States Cabinet-level agencies in order to get acquainted with Washington.
Obama and General Charles R. Davis smile to the crowd before speaking on her mission to help military families, October 2009
On June 5, 2009, the White House announced that Michelle Obama was replacing her current chief of staff, Jackie Norris, with Susan Sher, a longtime friend and adviser. Norris became a senior adviser to the Corporation for National and Community Service. Another key aide, Spelman College alumna Kristen Jarvis, served from 2008 until 2015, when she left to become chief of staff to the Ford Foundation president Darren Walker.
In 2009 Michelle Obama was named Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating Person of the year.
Some initiatives of First Lady Michelle Obama include advocating on behalf of military families, helping working women balance career and family, encouraging national service, and promoting the arts and arts education.Obama has made supporting military families and spouses a personal mission and has been increasingly bonding with military families. According to her aides, stories of the sacrifice these families make move her to tears. In April 2012, Obama and husband were awarded the Jerald Washington Memorial Founders’ Award by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV).The award is the highest honor given to homeless veteran advocates. Obama was again honored with the award in May 2015, accepting with Jill Biden.
Obama holding a sign with the hashtag “#bringbackourgirls” in May 2014
In November 2013, a Politico article by Michelle Cottle accusing Obama of being a “feminist nightmare” for not using her position and education to advocate for women’s issues was sharply criticized across the political spectrum. Cottle quoted Linda Hirshman saying of Obama’s trendy styles, promotion of gardening and healthy eating, and support of military families that “She essentially became the English lady of the manor, Tory Party, circa 1830s.”A prominent critic of Cottle was MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, who rhetorically asked “Are you serious?” Supporters of Obama note that the First Lady has been one of the only people in the administration to address obesity, through promoting good eating habits, which is one of the leading US public health crises.
In May 2014, Obama joined the campaign to bring back school girls who had been kidnapped in Nigeria. The First Lady tweeted a picture of herself holding a poster with the #bringbackourgirls campaign hashtag.[
Obama and Ellen DeGeneres dance on the second anniversary of Let’s Move!.
Obama’s predecessors Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush supported the organic movement by instructing the White House kitchens to buy organic food, and Obama extended their efforts toward healthy eating by planting the White House Kitchen Garden, an organic garden, the first White House vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt served as First Lady, and installing bee hives, on the South Lawn of the White House. The garden supplied organic produce and honey to the First Family and for state dinners and other official gatherings.
In January 2010, Obama undertook her first lead role in an administration-wide initiative, which she named “Let’s Move!,” to make progress in reversing the 21st century trend of childhood obesity. On February 9, 2010, the First Lady announced Let’s Move! and President Barack Obama created the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to review all current programs and create a national plan towards change.Michelle Obama stated that her goal was to make this effort her legacy: “I want to leave something behind that we can say, ‘Because of this time that this person spent here, this thing has changed.’ And my hope is that that’s going to be in the area of childhood obesity.” Her 2012 book American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America is based on her experiences with the garden and promotes healthy eating. Her call for action on healthy eating has been echoed by the United States Department of Defense, which has been facing an ever expanding problem of recruit obesity.
In January 2016, Republican Governor of New Jersey and presidential candidate Chris Christie condemned the First Lady’s involvement with healthy eating while on the campaign trail in Iowa, arguing that she was using the government to exercise her views on eating. Obama had previously cited Christie as an example of an adult who struggled with obesity, a demographic she sought to diminish by targeting children since Let’s Move! was “working with kids when they’re young, so that they don’t have these direct challenges when they get older.”
Obama’s first term official portrait
In the 2008 US presidential election, Obama boasted, to gay Democrat groups, of her husband’s record on LGBT rights: his support of the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Illinois gender violence act, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, civil unions; along with hate crimes protection for sexual orientation and gender identity and renewed effort to fight HIV and AIDS. They have both been opponents of constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage in the federal, California, and Florida constitutions. She said that the US Supreme Court delivered justice in the Lawrence v. Texas case and drew a connection between the struggles for gay rights and civil rights by stating “We are all only here because of those who marched and bled and died, from Selma to Stonewall, in the pursuit of a more perfect union.”
After the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell on September 20, 2011, Obama included openly gay service members in her national military families initiative. On May 9, 2012, Barack and Michelle Obama came out publicly in favor of same-sex marriage. Prior to this, Michelle Obama had never stated her position on same-sex marriage publicly. Senior White House officials said that Michelle Obama and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett had been the two most consistent advocates for same-sex marriage in Barack Obama’s life. Michelle went on to say that “This is an important issue for millions of Americans, and for Barack and me, it really comes down to the values of fairness and equality we want to pass down to our girls. These are basic values that kids learn at a very young age and that we encourage them to apply in all areas of their lives. And in a country where we teach our children that everyone is equal under the law, discriminating against same-sex couples just isn’t right. It’s as simple as that.” At the 2012 DNC Michelle said “Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it … and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love.”
2012 presidential election
Obama (far right) celebrates with Jill Biden after their husbands win re-election.
Obama campaigned for her husband’s re-election in 2012. Beginning in 2011, Obama became more politically active than she had been since the 2008 election, though avoided discussions about the re-election bid while at the White House. By this point, she had become known for giving hugs to most, if not all, individuals in attendance to an event or rally she was present at as well. Obama explained her extensive use of the gesture as a way of narrowing the gap between her and others to make herself appear less intimidating despite her position as First Lady and height. This was seen as a contrast to previous First Ladies, who were not known to be as open in greeting others.
Some viewed her as the most popular member of the Obama administration, an Obama senior campaign official even dubbing her “the most popular political figure in America”, which was reasoned to have contributed to her active role in the re-election campaign, but it was noted that the challenge for the Obama campaign was using her without tarnishing her popularity. Obama was viewed as a polarizing figure, having both “sharp enmity and deep loyalty” from Americans, but she was also seen as having improved her image since the time of the last election when her husband initially ran for the presidency. It was commented by Isabel Wilkinson of The Daily Beast that her style changed over the course of the campaign to sensitive and economical.
Obama aimed to humanize her husband with relating stories about him, attempting to appeal to female voters in swing states. It was commented by Paul Harris of The Guardian that the same tactic was being used by Ann Romney, wife of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Polls in October showed their husbands tied at 47% for the female vote. However, Michelle Obama’s favorability ratings remained higher than Ann Romney’s at 69% to 52%, even though the latter saw an increase in popularity in the later months of the election year. Despite Obama’s higher poll numbers, comparisons between Obama and Romney were consistently made by the media until the election, regardless of Michelle Cottle of Newsweek writing, “nobody votes for first lady.”
Obama expressed confidence in her husband’s debating skills prior to the first debate of the election cycle, though his performance would later be criticized as appearing detached and for looking down when addressing Romney, leading to a consensus that the latter won the debate. After her speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Obama was found through a CBS News/New York Times poll conducted in September to have a 61% favorably rating with registered voters, the highest favorability she had sustained since April 2009.
In August 2013, Obama attended the 50th anniversary ceremony for the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial. Positive attention was brought to Obama’s attire, a black sleeveless dress with red flowers, designed by Tracy Reese. Reese reacted by releasing a public statement that he was honored the First Lady “would choose to wear one of our designs during the celebration of such a deeply significant historical moment”.
In March 2015, Obama traveled to Selma, Alabama with her family in commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches.According to President Obama, the inclusion of their daughters on the trip was to remind them of their duty to fight for justice. Obama publicly stated her daughter Sasha would have been exposed to the same violence as that of protestors during the Selma marches had she been alive.After President Obama’s remarks there, the Obamas joined original marchers in crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
In December 2015, Obama traveled with her husband to San Bernadino, California, seeking to meet with families of the victims in a terrorist attack that occurred two weeks before their arrival.
In April 2010, Obama traveled to Mexico, her first solo visit to a nation without being accompanied by her husband or children. In Mexico, Obama spoke to students, encouraging them to take responsibility for their futures. Referring to the underprivileged children, Obama argued that “potential can be found in some of the most unlikely places”, citing herself and her husband as evidence of this occurrence.
Obama traveled to Africa for the second official time in June 2011, touring Johannesburg, Cape Town and Botswana and meeting with Graca Machel. Obama was also involved with community events in the foreign countries. It was commented by White House staff that her trip to Africa would advance the foreign policy of her husband.
In March 2014, Obama visited China along with her two daughters Malia and Sasha, and her mother Marian Robinson. She met with Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping and visited historic and cultural sites, as well as a university and two high schools.
Michelle and Barack Obama with King Salman of Saudi Arabia and members of the Saudi Royal Family, January 27, 2015
In January 2015, Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia alongside her husband, following the death of King Abdullah. She received criticism for not covering her head in a nation where women are forbidden from publicly doing so, though Obama was defended for being of American nationality and thus not having to be submissive to Saudi Arabia’s customs, even being praised in some corners. Obama was neither greeted nor acknowledged by King Salman during the encounter.
In June 2015, Obama undertook a weeklong trip to London and three Italian cities. In London, she spoke with students about international education for adolescent girls and later met with both British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince Harry. As with her trip to China the previous year, she was joined by her two daughters and mother. In November, she spent a week in Qatar, her first official visit to the Middle East. She continued advancing her initiative for international education for women during the trip by speaking at the 2015 World Innovation Summit for Education for the Let Girls Learn initiative in Doha, Qatar and touring a school in Amman, Jordan, where she met with female students. During the trip to Qatar, Obama had intended to visit Jordan as well over the course of a week, but the trip was canceled after weather conditions forced her to remain in Qatar for 36 hours. In the planned trip to Jordan, Obama had intended to visit an Amman school, which had been constructed with assistance from U.S. funds. An official said she was disappointed in having to call off the trip.
Obama campaigned for Democratic candidates in the 2010 midterm elections, making her debut on the campaign trail in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. By the time she began campaigning, Obama’s approval rating was 20 percentage points higher than her husband. Though Obama indicated in January 2010 that a consensus had not been made about whether she would campaign, speculation of her involvement came from her large approval rating as well as reports that she had been invited to speak at events with Democrats such as Barbara Boxer, Mary Jo Kilroy and Joe Sestak. She toured seven states in two weeks within October 2010. Though viewed as essential by the White House, aides reported that she would not become deeply involved with political discussions nor engage Republicans in public disputes. After the elections took place, only six of the thirteen Democratic candidates Obama had campaigned for won. The Los Angeles Times concluded that while Obama was indeed more popular than her husband, her “election scorecard proved no better than his, particularly in her home state.”
Michelle and Barack Obama, Mark Updegrove and John Lewis at the Civil Rights Summit at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, April 10, 2014
Obama was a participant in the 2014 midterm elections, held at a time where her popularity superseded her husband’s to such an extent that it was theorized that she would receive a much larger outpour of support in campaigning. Reporting her travel to Denver, Colorado, David Lightman wrote that while Democrats did not want President Obama to campaign for them, “the first lady is very popular”. In May 2014, Obama was found to have a 61% favorable approval rating from a CNN poll, her husband coming in at 43%In a video released in July, as part of an effort to encourage voter turnout, she called on voters to be “hungry as you were back in 2008 and 2012”. Obama appeared at a fundraiser in Georgia in September for Democratic senate candidate Michelle Nunn. Obama’s approach to campaigning in Georgia strayed from discussing current events and instead broadly stressed the importance of registering to vote and turning out during the elections. Obama’s infrequent appearances came from her dislike of being away from her children and Washington politics as well as her distaste for the opposition by Republicans to her husband’s agenda and her view that Democrats in the U.S. Senate had not sufficiently supporters her initiatives to end childhood obesity. Obama became more profile in October, touring three states in four days. Obama called the elections her husband’s “last campaign”.
With the ascent of her husband as a prominent national politician, Obama has become a part of popular culture. In May 2006, Essence listed her among “25 of the World’s Most Inspiring Women.” In July 2007, Vanity Fair listed her among “10 of the World’s Best Dressed People.” She was an honorary guest at Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball as a “young’un” paying tribute to the ‘Legends,’ who helped pave the way for African American women. In September 2007, 02138 magazine listed her 58th of ‘The Harvard 100’; a list of the prior year’s most influential Harvard alumni. Her husband was ranked fourth. In July 2008, she made a repeat appearance on the Vanity Fair international best dressed list. She also appeared on the 2008 People list of best-dressed women and was praised by the magazine for her “classic and confident” look.
At the time of her husband’s election, some sources anticipated that as a high-profile African-American woman in a stable marriage Obama would be a positive role model who would influence the view the world has of African-Americans. Her fashion choices were part of the 2009 Fashion week, but Obama’s influence in the field did not have the impact on the paucity of African-American models who participate, that some thought it might.
Obama’s public support grew in her early months as First Lady, as she was accepted as a role model. On her first trip abroad in April 2009, she toured a cancer ward with Sarah Brown, wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Newsweek described her first trip abroad as an exhibition of her so-called “star power” and MSN described it as a display of sartorial elegance. Questions were raised by some in the American and British media regarding protocol when the Obamas met Queen Elizabeth II and Michelle reciprocated a touch on her back by the Queen during a reception, purportedly against traditional royal etiquette.Palace sources denied that any breach in etiquette had occurred.
Obama has been compared to Jacqueline Kennedy due to her sense of style, and also to Barbara Bush for her discipline and decorum. Obama’s style has been described as “fashion populist.” In 2010, she wore clothes, many high end, from more than 50 design companies with less expensive pieces from J.Crew and Target, and the same year a study found that her patronage was worth an average of $14 million to a company. She became a fashion trendsetter, in particular favoring sleeveless dresses, including her first-term official portrait in a dress by Michael Kors, and her ball gowns designed by Jason Wu for both inaugurals.
Obama appeared on the cover and in a photo spread in the March 2009 issue of Vogue. Every First Lady since Lou Hoover (except Bess Truman) has been in Vogue, but only Hillary Clinton had previously appeared on the cover.In August 2011, she appeared on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, the first person to do so in 48 years, and the first woman. During the 2013 Academy Awards, she became the first First Lady to announce the winner of an Oscar (Best Picture which went to Argo).
The media have been criticized for focusing more on the First Lady’s fashion sense than her serious contributions. She has stated that she would like to focus attention as First Lady on issues of concern to military and working families.In 2008 U.S. News & World Report blogger, PBS host and Scripps Howard columnist Bonnie Erbé argued that Obama’s own publicists seemed to be feeding the emphasis on style over substanceErbé has stated on several occasions that Obama is miscasting herself by overemphasizing style.