5 Takeaways From Michelle Obama’s Chat With OprahIn her last solo interview as first lady, Michelle Obama spoke candidly with Oprah Winfrey about life inside the White House, the legacy she’ll leave behind and her plans for the future. Here are five takeaways from the wide-ranging conversation, which aired Monday night on CBS.
Responsibilities of the Office
In discussing her biggest sacrifices as first lady, Obama said losing her ability to be anonymous topped her list.
“There’s nowhere I can go in the world and just sit at a table and have a cup of coffee and watch the world,” she said.
She also spoke of the immense pressures that she and President Barack Obama felt during his presidency, saying the responsibilities of the office brought “a weight that is indescribable.”
“There’s no way to describe what it feels like to open up the paper every day and know that almost every headline is your husband’s responsibility at some level,” she said. “Anywhere in the world, any major problem, any major issue falls in the lap of the commander-in-chief.”
Rather than letting these stresses tear them apart, Michelle Obama said that time in office brought her closer to her husband.
“We can’t leave. We’re stuck in here together,” she joked, adding “the only other person who has a clue about what this is, the good, the bad … is your partner.”
On the Election
Michelle Obama said that the 2016 election was “challenging” and “painful” to “watch and experience,” not just as first lady, but as a citizen.
She was particularly upset by President-elect Donald Trump’s language on the campaign trail. “To have a candidate for the presidency speaking in such terms about women, as I said, it was not a normal thing,” Obama said in the interview.
In a notable speech in New Hampshire during the campaign, she addressed Trump’s taped 2005 “Access Hollywood” remarks about groping women, saying they had “shaken [her] to [her] core.” She told Oprah that this response came “in light of what [she] was seeing from [her] female staff, what [she] was hearing from [her] daughters, their reaction to it.”
“You can’t just stand before people and just give a regular political speech,” she said.
Obama said when she went to bed on election night, she was “getting [herself] ready for either outcome,” and thus was mentally prepared when she saw the results the next day.
“No matter how we felt going into it, it is important for the health of this nation that we support the commander-in-chief,” she said. “This is what’s best for the country. So we are going to be there for the next president and do whatever we have to do to make sure that he is successful. Because if he succeeds, we all succeed.”
Her support for the incoming presidency, Obama said, includes the incoming first lady, Melania Trump.
“My offer to Melania was, you know, you really don’t know what you don’t know until you’re here. The door is open, as I’ve told her, and as Laura Bush told me, you know, and as other first ladies told me,” she said. Obama noted that former First Lady Laura Bush and her team were available to her for her entire time in office. She said she plans to do the same for Trump.
In terms of immediate future plans, President Barack Obama — who crashed the interview — said their family would be going “someplace warm,” presumably for a vacation.
However, when looking at long-term goals, the first lady said running for office isn’t one of them. When asked, she told Oprah that she has not been asked to run by the Democratic Party and she is not planning to have any conversations about it.
“If I were interested in it, I’d say it. I don’t believe in playing games. It’s not something I would do,” Michelle Obama said. “It also speaks to the fact that people don’t really understand how hard this is. And it’s not something that you cavalierly just sort of ask a family to do again.”
While the majority of the first family will remain in Washington, D.C., after they leave office, one member will be missing: Obama’s mother. After living with them for the past four years at the White House, Obama said her mother’s going back to Chicago. “She’s, like, ‘bye, Felicia.'”
‘Hope’ for the Future
As the president who campaigned on “hope” prepares to leave office, the first lady wants that spirit of optimism to stay on.
“My desire for this country is that we remain hopeful and that we find a place in our hearts to love each other,” she said. “It’s really simple, you know? Just opening up our hearts to others. Making room.”