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Michelle Obama Charms Her Way Through Fox TV Debut

5 years ago
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First Lady Michelle Obama, making her debut on Fox News to promote her anti-obesity campaign, told former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee that she is working "every day" to "make my country proud."

Mrs. Obama seems to have outfoxed Fox, a network scorned by the White House, at least when it came to charming Huckabee.

The Huckabee interview was non-confrontational, friendly and even had another Fox host, Sean Hannity -- who has been anti-Obama, to say the least -- cooing when Huckabee went on Hannity's show to plug his exclusive sit-down with the first lady. Hannity told Huckabee Mrs. Obama was "a great get." Huckabee said Mrs. Obama was "a delightful person."

Mrs. Obama's chat with Huckabee, televised Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, was taped Friday in Philadelphia, where Mrs. Obama had traveled to highlight a key proposal from her "Let's Move" anti-obesity drive, the "Healthy Food Financing Initiative." The initiative, in which a federal task force will coordinate efforts of the private sector, non-profits and other groups, is aimed at providing financing to bring more groceries and other outlets selling healthy foods to underserved urban areas.

On Saturday, in a speech before the National Governors Association, where she pitched "Let's Move," Mrs. Obama singled out Huckabee for praise because of a 2003 childhood obesity program he launched while he was governor of Arkansas.

"They screened students' BMIs, which was controversial," Mrs. Obama said. "They got healthier food into their schools and required regular physical education classes. And as a result, that state was able to halt the rise of childhood obesity completely."

The "Let's Move" package, unveiled on Feb. 9, mirrored many core elements of Huckabee's Arkansas program. The BMI screening that Mrs. Obama mentioned referred to what is called a body mass index test. First Daughters Malia and Sasha took a BMI a few years ago and the screening alarmed the girls' doctor enough that Mrs. Obama was advised to pay more attention to what her children ate.

Huckabee lost more than 100 pounds in 2003-04 while governor and at the end of the interview he told Mrs. Obama he "fell off the wagon this last year." Mrs. Obama, whose sculpted upper arms have drawn much attention, quipped that she and Huckabee should "work on our arms together," suggesting that their next interview would be "shirts off."

After a discussion about childhood obesity, Huckabee asked Mrs. Obama, "Do you ever watch Fox News?"

Fox had excoriated Mrs. Obama during the campaign for comments she made almost exactly two years ago when, in Milwaukee during the presidential campaign, she said "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback." That night, in Madison, she said, "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change." Last October, an Obama aide said Fox was part of the political opposition and "we're going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent."

Mrs. Obama said, "I don't watch news that much." She added, "I try to stay away from news because you know I want to formulate my opinions based on experiences that I've had. I get headlines and I get clips and I try to make home kind of a news free zone; sort of like when you live above the shop, you can't bring work home."

Huckabee then asked what "narrative" about her has been "misrepresented" and asked the first lady how she handled with her daughters the "vile" things said about their mother.

"You know, to the extent that I think it was during the course of the campaign, I think that people have gotten to know me," she said. "I mean, there will always be people who don't agree with you. . . . We can disagree on direction, but the fundamental truth is that if you're here sitting in this, subjecting yourself to all of this and the scrutiny . . . you care. And that's something that I've come to know and respect in all of our politicians and all of our candidates, regardless of their beliefs or their perspectives, is that they're in this because they care."

She called America "a really cool country with some really great people all over the place."

FOOTNOTE: Huckabee asked Mrs. Obama about highlights of her past year in the White House, and Mrs. Obama brought up the Obama family's meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in July. "Sasha's big thing she noticed about the pope was that he had a nick in his thumb. And she wrote an essay about it," she said about her 8-year-old. "So you should see the horror when I looked on there and said, 'Is that what you saw?' But . . . she was about thumb level to him."

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