Tales from the Trail

Watching for glimpses of Obama on holiday

We know that President Barack Obama and wife Michelle went for an early Christmas morning gym workout at a Marine base near their Hawaiian holiday home in Kailua. But we didn’t actually see them.

OBAMA/The press van was in a motorcade of about a dozen black vans that left near sunrise to make the short trip to the gym. So there’s the evidence that the First Couple did in fact go work out. But none of us in the traveling press actually saw them. (The last sighting was when they landed in Hawaii yesterday)

While they worked out (we imagine weights, treadmill, bicycle, and any other equipment on hand), the press went to the McDonald’s on base (quite the opposite of a workout) where the trash receptacles were labeled  “Mahalo” instead of “Thank you.”

We’ve been wondering what present Obama gave his wife for their first Christmas as president and first lady. Well THIS JUST IN: the First Couple is NOT exchanging gifts with each other this year, but will exchange gifts with their daughters, the White House said.

And Christmas dinner for the first family will include roast beef and potatoes.

It’s a cloudy, drizzly morning in Kailua. The egrets are out, the palm trees are swaying, and we’re waiting for a glimpse…

Sasha and Malia Obama coy about Dad’s presents

Sasha and Malia Obama are keeping quiet about what they’ve got their father for Christmas, who has publicly complained that the rule in their household is that he gives the best gifts.

OBAMA/“It’s something he likes,” Sasha, his youngest daughter, said during a visit with her mother to the Childrens’ National Medical Center in Washington. First lady Michelle Obama confided that she was giving him “sports stuff.”
Michelle and the girls together with the first dog Bo visited the center in keeping with longstanding White House tradition and met afterward with some of the children, who wanted to know how many Christmas trees there were in the White House.

This proved a tricky one, with Michelle appealing to her staff for help before Sasha informed everyone that it was 26, although elder sister Malia pointed out that “unfortunately, you don’t get presents under all of them.” 

Which Obama will be Gift Giver-in-Chief?


First lady Michelle Obama’s favorite childhood Christmas present was a dollhouse, a gift that may have presaged her current role as  the nation’s tastemaker, admired and followed for her stylish clothing and the mark she is making on the White House.

“It was a metal dollhouse with plastic furniture,” she told U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey for her upcoming “Christmas at the White House” television special that  airs on ABC at 10 p.m. Sunday.  “… I remember I really didn’t know how to set up a house, so I had all the furniture lined up along the walls as opposed to nestled around the fireplace, but I loved that little dollhouse.”

President Barack Obama’s favorite present? A basketball given by his father, who was absent for most of his childhood, and which the president later realized probably had a lot to do with his lifelong love for the sport.

No one like a wife to keep even a peace laureate honest


Cheering crowds greeted U.S. President Barack Obama in Norway as he received one of the world’s great honors but at least one person was there to ensure that the pomp and circumstance of winning the Nobel Peace Prize did not go to his head.

When her husband, who is not only president but a best-selling author, wrote seven lines of text in the guest book at the Nobel Institute on Thursday, first lady Michelle Obama asked if he were writing a book, and then commented as she prepared to write her entry: “Mine won’t be as long.”

Obama joshed gently back: ”She will resist writing something sarcastic since this will be recorded for the future.”

Christmas at the White House begins with arrival of THE tree

OBAMAWASHINGTON - Thanksgiving is over, President Barack Obama has pardoned one turkey (and eaten another), and now a giant Christmas tree has arrived at the White House.

Like it or not, Christmas is here.

First Lady Michelle Obama — with daughters Sasha and Malia — kicked off her traditional almost-December duties on Friday by accepting delivery of a 18 1/2 foot tall, 12 foot wide tree, which will be displayed in the White House Blue Room.

Reporters and a small group of guests gathered to watch the tree be pulled on a horse-drawn carriage down a White House driveway to the strains of ”Oh Christmas Tree” being played by a military band.

On Thanksgiving Eve, Obama family hits the Turkey line

HandshakeThe First Family swooped in for a swift spot of volunteering Wednesday at Martha’s Table, about two miles from the White House, handing out turkeys and groceries to a fast-moving line of the local needy.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, first lady Michelle warmly greeted people and handed them bags of fresh vegetables – she’s big on eating right – while leaning over to gently pinch the face of her youngest daughter, Sasha.

The eight-year-old was busy in the turkey stuffing department next to dad, President Barack Obama. Clad in a black zip-up jacket and open necked white shirt, Obama greeting people with a hearty “Happy Thanksgiving, How Are You,” as he flashed wide smiles and industriously slipped pumpkin pies into food bags while simultaneously shaking hands. Eldest daughter Malia, 11, standing next to her mother, also seemed to be having a good time as she distributed packets of food.

Obama walks in rain-soaked cemetery of U.S. war dead

President Barack Obama walked in the rain among the graves of U.S. casualties from the Iraq and Afghan wars at Arlington National Cemetery and took an unscheduled detour into section 60, a thicket of simple white headstones, to mark Veterans Day. OBAMA/

Underscoring the poignancy of the visit, Obama was due to hold a war council later on Wednesday as he tries to decide whether to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, where U.S. forces experienced their bloodiest month in October.

The president, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, bent down briefly at the headstone of 19-year-old Specialist Ross McGinnis, who was awarded the United States’ highest military decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor.

Obamas turn White House into Halloween central

The White House glowed pumpkin orange on Saturday when the Obama family turned 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue into Halloween central, complete with a giant stuffed spider dangling from a web above its front door.

OBAMA/More than 2,000 local area children and their families were invited for the traditional trick-or-treat event.  

The Obamas spent about 30 minutes handing out cellophane bagfulls of boxed red, white and blue M&M’s. The boxes bore the presidential seal. Also tucked in was a home-baked orange-glazed cookie and, in a nod to Michelle Obama’s efforts to promote healthy food, dried apricots and cranberries.

The harvest is in at the White House


“Are you ready to work really hard?”

“Are you ready to get dirty?”

That was the rallying cry from first lady Michelle Obama Thursday as she invited local school children to help her pick crops from the White House garden.

The crops are the bounty from the garden that Obama started in the spring to promote healthy eating .

And it’s frugal eating too.

“Do you know how much food has come out of this garden so far? Over 740 pounds of food have come out of this little piece of land,” Obama told the kids.  The whole thing — from start to harvest — came in under $200, she added.

Obama complains New York date night became political issue

President Barack Obama is letting it be known that he was not pleased with the way his trip to New York with wife Michelle last May became a political issue. USA/

“Everything becomes political,” he told The New York Times Magazine in a story to be published this Sunday. “What I value most about my marriage is that it is separate and apart from a lot of the silliness of Washington, and Michelle is not part of that silliness.”

Republicans had criticized the trip as an expensive extravagance during hard economic times. Obama and Michelle flew Air Force One from Washington to New York for a night out on the town.