First Lady Michelle Obama showed off her dance moves Thursday with Ellen DeGeneres on the "Ellen" show, where she appeared with Jill Biden and told kids who are bullied to hang in there.
"We need to start sending different messages to our kids, first of all, to let them know it does get better," Mrs. Obama said.
Mrs. Obama is on the West Coast for a political swing that took her to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles this week. She delivered a speech at Maria Shriver's women's conference -- Shriver is the first lady of California -- and sat for the "Ellen" taping on Tuesday with Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden.
DeGeneres landed the women -- it was, Mrs. Obama said, their first joint interview, although they have appeared together at events -- because they all wanted to talk about the problems facing military families, one of Mrs. Obama's and Mrs. Biden's main issues.
"Ellen" is also a daytime show with a large female audience, and Mrs. Obama is trying to crank up female Democratic turnout in advance of the Nov. 2 vote. President Obama and Mrs. Obama are no strangers to "Ellen."
During the presidential campaign, Mrs. Obama was a guest on the show on Sept. 8, 2008, and danced longer and looser with DeGeneres than she did on the set this week. President Obama has been on the show several times -- also dancing some with DeGeneres.
Is Mrs. Obama a better dancer than the president? "I'm sure of that," the first lady said.
There was a schtick with Mrs. Obama about DeGeneres' mother, Betty. Last April, she was invited to the White House for Easter egg hunt activities and read a book on the Storytime Stage -- and the gag was that she swiped a tea cup and saucer and a big portrait of Abe Lincoln from the White House.
Mrs. Obama was asked about living in the White House and how it impacted daughters Malia and Sasha.
"They have been so non-impressed by all of this. I mean, the biggest thing now is that we went to parent-teacher conference and Malia is like, 'Does Dad have to come?' with all of his 'commotion,' she calls it," Mrs. Obama said.
DeGeneres asked Mrs. Obama how the family deals with criticism.
"It's part of the job and that's the good thing about the campaign. It really gets you prepared for all the hard knocks that come along with making really tough decisions. Fortunately the girls are pretty young. They're not watching the news. They're pretty much watching Disney and all that good stuff.
"And they're fairly shielded, but when they have questions we talk about it honestly. And they have there own opinions and they know how to balance things out. And fortunately, they have friends who don't make it an issue. So I think it's been better than I would of expected. That's one of the things that I worried about but I think they are doing OK," she said.
And how does Mrs. Obama handle it? "Well there are always two worlds in politics. There is the stuff you hear on TV and then it's what you feel when you go out into the country. But people are kind.
"And they are kind to us when we go into communities. I think people know that my husband's intent is good and that we are making good progress. That's what we feel. That's the energy that we get back. You can choose to take in the negative or you take in the good stuff. So we are focused on the work at hand. How we feel is the least of it."
The conversation turned to bullying, and Mrs. Obama said, "We've developed a culture of bullying in so many ways . . .
We need to start sending different messages to our kids, first of all, to let them know it does get better, that the challenges they face for the few years that they are in high school or college, they can't let that eat them up because all of these young people, regardless of their race, their sexual orientation, they are gifts to us and they have so much to offer.
"And it is just terrible to find out that kids let this part of their life define everything about who they are going to be. But it is also up to us as adults in the room to create the safe environments for kids. And what I tell my kids is it is their responsibility to not stay silent when they see something like that happen."
To political critics, Mrs. Obama had this to say: "I don't assume that they mean our country harm, and I think we have to give each other the benefit of the doubt."
HEADING TO CHICAGO FOR FUNERAL
Mrs. Obama is flying to Chicago on Friday to attend -- with White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett -- the funeral of a long-time friend, Bishop Arthur M. Brazier, a legendary South Side Chicago pastor. Brazier, 89, died last Friday.
Later on Friday, Mrs. Obama hosts a conference call for female Democratic National Committee donors.
"The First Lady will get all of us fired up for the election on November 2nd, 2010, and lay out the most important ways that we can help," said a DNC e-mail from Jarrett about the call.
"We're in the final stretch of our Vote 2010 campaign, and with so much left to do, this call with the First Lady is a great way to find out how you can get even more involved."