There won’t be much of an Obama family vacation this year, but first lady Michelle Obama has used national TV to signal her husband where she wants to go when the time comes – and it’s not where he thought.
That message, and some insight into the strength of the president’s marriage, were covered in a CBS interview otherwise dominated by politics, the economy and the ongoing presidential campaign.
The interview was conducted by CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose and has been dribbled out slowly by CBS, with snippets aired each day since Friday, to conclude Monday morning. The president was joined by his wife, both walking around some of the White House grounds and in a sit-down session in the Blue Room. Obama joked with Rose that she was there “because she’s more popular.”
They told Rose there would be no August vacation this year because of the campaign. “We’ll be so busy,” said the first lady, though she quickly added that “we’ll get family time.”
The president said that daughters Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11, will be able to have fun. “The girls are now of an age where they start having their own stuff. So they've got a sleep-away camp for a month, both of them are leaving. We're going to be, you know, experiencing the first stages of empty nest syndrome.” Asked if he was prepared for that, he responded, “Well, I get a little depressed.”
When Rose asked them if there was any place in the world they’d like to go, the president said his wife had been “scouting” destinations, suggesting she wants to go to India. But his wife quickly interjected a vacation spot with eight more electoral votes: Louisiana.
She said there are “still wonderful places here in the U.S.” she’d like to visit, topped by New Orleans. “I’ve been there several times but I’ve never been to the French Quarter. Because when we are there we are usually working. We go in by some back way, some freight elevator.”
Rose also pressed them to talk about the state of their marriage and how it has been affected by living in the White House and in the public eye. “I am happily surprised at how I think this experience has strengthened rather than diminished our marriage,” said the president. “I rely on her even more now than I did back then. I do think that part of the great thing about our marriage is we have complete trust and honesty and that keeps the relationship fresh.”
Asked if the White House has changed her, the first lady responded, “I think you are who you are. And I don’t think you change in this place. I think this place magnifies the good parts and the bad parts of you.”
She indicated the White House has increased her pride in her husband. “I’ve just been so proud watching him maneuver though some pretty interesting waters. And to retain himself, he shows us in the way he looks at me and the girls when he comes home at 6:30 that there is nothing more important than being there with us. And the fact that he can do that and then later on after dinner, after we’ve walked the dog and got the girls started on their homework, he starts unloading his day. And I think, wow, is that what happened?” She added, “I’m just impressed by his steadiness.”
She did, though, also want to make sure that everybody understood who the old one in the marriage is. When she started to refer to the two of them as being in their “late ‘40s,” her husband interjected that he had turned 50. “I’m 48,” she said. When Rose asked if she had forgotten her husband was 50, she said firmly, “No I didn't. I’m just being clear that I’m not there yet.”