Michelle Obama talks Mandela, husband's campaign, daughters' privacy
First lady Michelle Obama paints a mural with teens at an HIV support center in Gaborone, Botswana, on Friday.
June 24th, 2011
04:05 PM ET

Michelle Obama talks Mandela, husband's campaign, daughters' privacy

First lady Michelle Obama has visited with dignitaries, schoolkids and women as part of her weeklong visit to Africa to promote youth leadership and education.

She and daughters, Sasha and Malia, arrived Monday.

She has even more events lined up this weekend, including a safari before she heads home from Botswana, but she has already sat down with South African ex-President Nelson Mandela and done pushups with Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu. She also went to a Cape Town, South Africa, museum after her planned trip to the notorious Robben Island prison, where Mandela spent 18 years, was canceled because of weather.

CNN caught up with Obama for an interview during which she discussed some of the high points of her trip:

On Mandela: "The one thing I told him, I wanted to make sure he understood how important his leadership and sacrifice has been to who I've become, to who my husband has become and, in short, I just said, 'Thank you.' It's really hard to know what to say to such an icon."

On the U.S. elections: "We really don't talk about the election. We're really doing the work, and that's an important and useful distraction in the midst of it. There's a lot on the president of the United States' plate that keeps him focused on what needs to be done, so you just keep doing what you believe is right. I always say this: One of the reasons why I support this president and not just as my husband, but as a citizen, is because I see him taking that long view. I see him every day waking up worrying, not about polls, but worrying about what is the right thing to do for the future. That keeps you pretty focused on what's important."

On husband's campaign: "When it comes to the campaign we're ready to work hard. We did it before and we'll do it again, so we're rolling up our sleeves and getting on with it."

On daughters: "Fortunately, we have help from the media. I have to say this: I am very grateful for the support and kindness that we've gotten. People have respected their privacy, and in that way, no matter what people may feel about my husband's policies or what-have-you, they care about children, and that's been good to see."

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Filed under: Africa • Barack Obama • Botswana • Education • Health • Michelle Obama • Politics • South Africa • World
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. john

    @Big Game James: I've worked on section 8 rental houses, I've seen the abuse up close and it is any thing but a broad brush, I've also had and still have relatives on it abusing the system so I know first hand of what I speak.

    June 24, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. john

    @gung hoe: LoL.

    June 24, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. john

    @Big Game James: you forgot to add ba stards.

    June 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. john

    @Big Game James: I was agreeing with her, people on food stamps shouldn't be allowed to purchase certain types of food with it, how is that dissing Michelle?

    June 24, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Big Game James

    @john you were agreeing with the guy who was. I lumped you in with him. Sound familiar?

    June 24, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. john

    @Big Game James: He was making a point that Michelle doesn't do what she wants to make other people do so yes you're right I was agreeing with him because he was correct in his assessment. That's the way life works.

    June 24, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. john

    @Big Game James: I also said that I agreed with Michelle on not letting people buy junk food with food stamps but you totally ignored that so your evaluation is like a leaky boat-it doesn't hold water.

    June 24, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I know that there is abuse of food stamps, but the big picture is complex.
    I have never used food stamps, and if I had to, I would find it very hard. I'm sure that I'd be tempted to avoid eating.
    When I was a student, there were times that I didn't have enough to eat. I know what it is to live on almost nothing.
    On food stamps, I think that I would want, occasionally, to buy lobster or a brand-name turkey to remain sane.
    In grocery lines, I'm embarrassed to stand beside somebody who's going to pay with food stamps but can look at the stacks of steaks I've piled onto the counter.
    Still, when I post here, I advocate a mentality of aspiration to wealth that I believe is the solution to our economic problems.
    The more one tries to become rich, even though he may not succeed completely, the better he will do at achieving something much better than what he has.
    Those who are fortunate enough to have some money in their pockets have a responsibility to share with others. I help people that I know. I spring for the check when eating out and do whatever else I can.
    The abuse of food stamps is really complex, and we have to view it with compassion.

    June 24, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Big Game James

    @john then we will waste more time and more taxpayer money deciding what is junk food. And people will complain about that!

    June 24, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. john

    We're already paying congressional salaries that's why they have commissions so a small body of congress can tackle an issue and come up with a proposal for the main body to vote on that way as little money as possible is spent on the issue. Most people know what junk food is it's not rocket science.

    June 24, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. john

    The compassion I have is for the children that are left wanting because their parents abuse the system, that and for those who are somehow disabled who are using the help appropriately or those who need the help temporarily due to some misfortune that has befallen them. The ones who are just abusing the system I have absolutely no compassion for especially if they're misusing the help and denying their children proper sustenance, they can rot as far as I'm concerned, the parents not the innocent children.

    June 24, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. andy

    whats good for the goose is good for the gander. If we don't get privacy from the government going through our e-mails and censoring Google and YouTube then why don't the daughters get run through the wringer, I hope their lives get put on line too. I bet that fox could go on for days if their tweets and e-mails were leaked.

    June 25, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CESAR


    June 26, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
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