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August 5th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

First Lady takes glitzy Spanish vacation in current economic climate?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The U.S. economy, with nearly 10% unemployment, has millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet – but you might not know it by watching the First Lady.

Michelle Obama, her youngest daughter, Sasha, and several of the First Lady's "closest friends" are on a glitzy vacation in Spain. They're staying on the southern Mediterranean coast with friends at a luxury hotel.

The resort in Marbella on the Costa del Sol is a playground for the rich and famous... including members of the Saudi Royal family, Spain's jet-setting crowd and Hollywood actors.

The First Lady and her pals are expected to take up 60 to 70 rooms, or more than a third of the whole resort, where prices start at about $400 a night and reportedly go up to $2,500 a night.

A piece in The New York Daily News compares quote "Material girl Michelle Obama [to] a modern-day Marie Antoinette” staying in the lap of luxury and not exactly cutting back in troubled times.

The taxpayers are paying for transportation and housing of an estimated 70 Secret Service agents who will accompany Mrs. Obama, not to mention the cost of Air Force Two.

The Daily News suggests that while the Obamas like to portray themselves as common folk, it doesn't really jibe with what we're seeing. The piece suggests a vacation on the coast of California where money would have pumped into the local economy might have been a more politically astute idea.

Michelle Obama's lavish trip comes at a time when 8 in 10 Americans describe economic conditions as "poor” and the "economy" is overwhelmingly cited as the top problem facing the U.S. today.

Here’s my question to you: What message does it send when the First Lady takes a glitzy vacation to Spain given the current economic climate?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: Economy • Michelle Obama
February 19th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

Why is First Lady more open to talking about race than her husband?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The first lady is going "there"...

Michelle Obama is opening up and talking about race in a way that her husband hasn't so far.

Politico reports that while Pres. Obama hasn't been as willing to talk about how policy affects minority communities, the First Lady frequently brings up issues of race, region and inequality.

For example, she recently announced a campaign against childhood obesity. While it's a problem everywhere - one-third of the nation's children are either overweight or obese. Mrs. Obama points out how it's a particularly serious issue for black and Hispanic kids. She also talks about the lack of healthy food options in some inner city neighborhoods.

And in other speeches or interviews, Michelle Obama has talked about how many inner city neighborhoods are just plain unsafe.

Some believe that the First Lady is serving as a bridge from the White House to the African-American community, much like she did during the campaign.

As a candidate, Barack Obama shied away from talking about race... with the exception of that big speech he made in Philadelphia after the incendiary comments of his pastor came out.

Many supporters have been disappointed since he's taken office - saying the president hasn't lived up to the image of the first big city, urban president. A former community organizer in Chicago, it must be assumed President Obama is well aware of the problems of the inner cities. And while it's true he's created the white house office of urban affairs, he hasn't laid out a clear agenda for problems in these communities.

Here’s my question to you: Why is first lady Michelle Obama more open to talking about race than her husband?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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March 6th, 2009
02:56 PM ET

Does Michelle Obama have a future in politics?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Earlier this week I wrote this in my column on CNN.com: "First lady Michelle Obama has blown away the stale air in a White House musty from eight years of the Bushes. It's like the sun came out and a fresh spring breeze began wafting through the open windows."

Does Michelle Obama have a future in politics?

Mrs. Obama has avoided the appearance of getting involved in policy.

The First Lady recognizes the White House is "the people's house", inviting ordinary people, kids, you name it to visit. The nation's first African-American first lady is also making the rounds among federal agencies - sometimes thousands of government employees line up to see her. She has visited schools in the district and yesterday she went to a soup kitchen.

Perhaps it's no surprise that a recent poll shows Michelle Obama has the highest initial favorable rating of first ladies going back to Nancy Reagan.

An article in the Christian Science Monitor points out that one thing is clear about Michelle Obama's post-election rollout. "She is no Hillary Clinton," said the article. Although both first ladies are Ivy-league trained lawyers who came out of high-power careers, Mrs. Obama has avoided the appearance of getting involved in policy. Instead she's cast herself as "mom in chief", with her top priority getting her girls settled at school and into a routine.

Yet, some are wondering if this is just Obama's opening act, if policy work will be a natural progression at some point. After all, she was a top executive at a Chicago hospital. And during the campaign Obama held regular women's roundtables, selling her husband's candidacy and giving feedback to his inner circle. She has made the needs of military families a priority both before and after the election.

Raised on the south side of Chicago in a working-class family, Michelle Obama went on to a top-notch education at Princeton and Harvard Law School.

Here’s my question to you: Does Michelle Obama have a future in politics if she wants one?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: Michelle Obama
March 3rd, 2009
11:17 AM ET

My crush on Michelle Obama

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

I think I am developing a crush on America's first lady. Michelle Obama is more compelling than her husband. He's good, but she's utterly fascinating.

My crush on Michelle Obama

Jack finds the First Lady more compelling than her husband.

Mrs. Obama has blown away the stale air in a White House musty from eight years of the Bushes. It's like the sun came out and a fresh spring breeze began wafting through the open windows.

It's the people's house, and Michelle Obama totally gets it. So much so that she has taken to inviting people in from the streets to see her home. Nice touch - one completely lacking in her recent predecessors.

Watch her when she visits a local school and you see the warmth and affection she instantly triggers in people. Kids are pretty much totally honest with very good BS-detectors. If they sense you're a phony, forget it. But around the first lady, they want to hug her and laugh with her and tell her stories.

Click here to read the full post.


Filed under: Michelle Obama
November 19th, 2008
01:15 PM ET

Public or Private School for Obama kids?

 Should the Obama children attend public or private school?

Should the Obama children attend public or private school?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The nation's president-elect will be confronting arguably the toughest set of problems this country has been faced with in a very long time. The economy is in crisis, the treasury is broke, Americans are losing their jobs and we're fighting two wars. It's heady stuff but at the end of the day, one of the biggest decisions Barack and Michelle Obama are going to have to make is where to send those two delightful little girls to school.

It's a decision many parents wrestle with all the time: Public or private? Public schools tend to more closely resemble the real world, while private schools provide a more insulated and, in most cases, intellectually-challenging environment. But Sasha and Malia aren't just any two kids moving to Washington from Chicago and trying to find a new school. When they head off for their first day of class, the world will be watching and the Secret Service will go with them. Michelle Obama says she wants to be the nation's "first mom." Where to send these two kids to school will be one of the biggest decisions she has to make. And no matter what the Obamas decide, the nation will be watching and clucking like a bunch of hens no matter where they go to school.

Here’s my question to you: Should the Obama children attend public or private school?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Michelle Obama
August 26th, 2008
06:00 PM ET

How much do you have in common with Obamas?

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Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.(PHOTO CREDIT: AP PHOTO)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Michelle Obama's speech last night was meant to convince Americans that her family is just like the rest of us.

The wife of the presumptive Democratic nominee talked about things like family and hard work – that should resonate with millions of people across the country. The idea is to calm the fears of some that Barack Obama is different and unknown with an exotic background.

Michelle Obama described herself as a daughter, wife and mother coming from a blue-collar background – her dad was a city worker in Chicago. She talked about the anxiety her husband felt when driving their oldest daughter home from the hospital as a newborn, and what she thinks about when she tucks her two girls into bed at night.

Watch: Cafferty: Relate to Obamas?

Mrs. Obama said her husband is an ordinary man, joking about his love of basketball. She talked about his being raised by a single mother and grandparents who "scrimped and saved" so they could give him opportunities they never had. She also tried to put to rest questions about her own patriotism, declaring,"I love this country".

At the end of her speech, viewers were treated to an unscripted moment between her two young daughters and her husband via a live video hookup. The girls evaluated their mom's speech and told their "daddy" that they loved him. A moment that could go far in cementing the image of the Obamas as an American family like any other.

Meanwhile, a new Gallup poll suggests Michelle's speech could make a difference, with more than half of Americans saying a candidate's spouse is an important factor in their vote.

Here’s my question to you: How much do you feel you have in common with Michelle and Barack Obama?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • Michelle Obama
June 11th, 2008
01:54 PM ET

Should candidates’ spouses be off-limits?

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Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Democrats and Republicans might be settled on their nominees now, but that doesn't mean Barack Obama and John McCain are the only ones in the spotlight.

Maureen Dowd writes in her New York Times column called "Mincing up Michelle" that now that HIllary Clinton is out of the race, the Republican machine can turn its full attention to demonizing Michelle Obama. "She is the new, unwilling contestant in Round Two of the sulfurous national game of "'Kill the witch.'"

There are web sites dedicated to portraying Michelle as a female version of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a recent cover of the National Review called her "Mrs. Grievance" and one popular conservative blogger described her as "Obama's bitter half."

Michelle Obama stirred controversy last February when she said, "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." The campaign clarified that she meant she was proud of the participation of thousands of Americans, but it still led to accusations that she was unpatriotic.

Cindy McCain has also drawn criticism. When she first refused to release her tax returns, some said that wasn't consistent with her husband's message of openness. Mrs. McCain has also talked about her addiction to painkillers in the early 90s, and how she initially kept it secret from her husband and family.

So what is fair game when it comes to the nominees' spouses? After Tennessee Republicans recently went after Michelle, Barack Obama said they should "lay off" his wife. But it's not the first time critics have picked on potential first ladies: Judy Giuliani was the subject of several nasty profiles showing her as a social climber and husband-stealer. And of course, Hillary Clinton was slammed after her 1992 comment about staying home and baking cookies.

Here’s my question to you: Should Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain be off-limits during the campaign?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2008 Election • Cindy McCain • Michelle Obama
May 16th, 2008
05:59 PM ET

GOP targeting Michelle Obama?

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Click the Play Button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Tennessee Republican Party has set its sights on Michelle Obama – the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

A new web video highlights her controversial comment earlier this year, saying she was proud of America "for the first time in my adult life." Obama later clarified the remark saying she meant she was proud of how Americans were engaging in the political process, and that she was always proud of her country.

Nonetheless, the GOP video replays her remark six times and mixes in commentary by people who live in Tennessee on why they're proud of America. The party says it's always been proud of this country, and it requested that state radio stations play patriotic music in honor of Michelle Obama's visit there yesterday.

The Obama campaign calls the attack "shameful”. It says that the Republican Party's "pathetic" attempts to use similar smear tactics have already failed in elections in Mississippi and Louisiana, and will fail again in November. The campaign calls on the Tennessee Republican Party to address Senator Obama directly next time, instead of going after his family.

Meanwhile, it's not the first time the GOP in Tennessee has made waves. Earlier this year, in a truly low-rent stunt, it used Barack Obama's middle name "Hussein" in a news release questioning his support of Israel and showing a photo of him wearing what it called "Muslim attire." The Republican National Committee denounced that piece of garbage.

Here’s my question to you: Is it a good strategy for Republicans to go after Michelle Obama?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Elections • GOP • Michelle Obama