- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2008

Michelle Obama and her presidential contender husband, they really love their breakfast bacon - even though it’s not exactly healthy.

And pantyhose? Forget about it. Mrs. Obama could be the nation’s next first lady, but she already has sworn off them as a fashion inconvenience.

At 5-feet-11, she defended, it’s hard to find hosiery that fits her leggy frame.

These are the humanizing revelations that emerged Wednesday morning as Mrs. Obama settled in on the couch with Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters as she co-hosted the popular television talk show “The View.” With press accounts suggesting that the one-time corporate attorney - who earns a reported $300,000 salary as a hospital executive - was focused on softening her outspoken image, the missus, now a star political spouse, did just that.

Seated in the middle of the celebrity hosts, including conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck with whom she sparked no heated debate, the much-watched Democratic wife held her own in a chit-chat that touched on everything from fashion, food and parenting - with nary a moment of wonkery.

But Mrs. Obama did provide a moment of bipartisanship when telling the ladies she sent a letter of appreciation to Laura Bush when the first lady came to her defense over comments about her pride in the United States.

“I was touched by it,” Mrs. Obama said when the ladies discussed how the first lady said the media was blowing the “proud” comments out of proportion.

“That’s what I like about Laura Bush. You know, just calm, rational approach to these issues. And you know, I’m taking some cues. I mean, there’s a balance. There’s a reason why people like her. It’s because she doesn’t, sort of, you know, fuel the fire,” Mrs. Obama said.

The ladies on “The View” offered a friendly assessment of Mrs. Obama’s “proud” remark, showing a clip of her saying, “For the first time in my adult lifetime I am really proud of my country,” on the campaign trail in Wisconsin in February. They agreed with Mrs. Bush’s defense of the remark, as the first lady told ABC last week, “I think she probably meant ‘I’m more proud,’ you know, is what she really meant.”

“The View” chose not to play or mention the comment that actually set off the political firestorm, made earlier the same day as that first clip.

“For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,” Mrs. Obama said before later adding the world “really.”

The other highlights?

“You are setting this trend that everyone wants to go sleeveless,” said “The View” co-host Sherri Shepherd, who complimented Mrs. Obama, 44, on her toned biceps.

“It’s fun to look pretty,” responded Mrs. Obama, showing off her lithe arms, as she frequently does, in a black and white garden party sun dress accessorized with a very Sarah Jessica Parker-inspired black pin.

She explained as the mainly female audience listened intently that her outfit came from a retail store that sells only black and white apparel - very populist - but that she often works with Chicago-based designer Maria Pinto on her professional attire, which has earned fashion plaudits and comparisons to style icon and former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

For now, at least, as the election cycle heats up, she is the soccer mom, of sorts, taking on the primary caretaker role for her two daughters, Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10. While her husband receives adulation from his followers, he’s still just dad to his girls and yes, he does make it home to their recitals and events, even as his hectic schedule sends him jetting around the country.

Thus far, Mrs. Obama says, the girls are not caught up in the celebrity limelight.

Their children are real kids, she explained and savvy in their own right, said Mrs. Obama, who shared a story about Malia that suggested that like her mom, the elder Obama daughter isn’t buying into the hype.

“Someone asked her if she gets nervous before crowds. She said, ‘Well, ya know. I realize those people aren’t here to see me. I’m just a kid. I can do my part. I can recycle. I can pick up the trash. But I can’t pass any laws to make people do anything. They just think I’m cute. I just wave and I smile and I’m out of there.’”

The audience laughed.

Added Mrs. Obama of her little girl’s candor: “She keeps us grounded.”

Only newswoman Miss Walters attempted to draw her guest into a political discussion, by asking a question about Mr. Obama’s choice of a running mate. Mrs. Obama did not hesitate in replying that it was her husband’s right and decision to chose the person who was the best fit.

She did, however, honor Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, her husband’s one-time rival and her historic role in breaking a political glass ceiling, noting that the New York senator was paving a path for Mrs. Obama’s young daughters for the future.

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