Tales from the Trail

Obama’s Date Night on Broadway

USA/Campaigning for the White House last year, Barack Obama promised his wife, Michelle, he would take her to a Broadway show when he won. Four months after becoming president, Obama did just that on Saturday. 

The Obamas flew to New York for dinner in Greenwich Village and a Broadway play. 

“I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

The Obamas did not travel to New York in the Boeing 747 Jumbo jet used as Air Force One. They flew in a smaller Gulfstream 500 plane to JFK airport, before hopping into Manhattan on the Marine One helicopter.

A casual Obama wore a dark business suit with no tie, Michelle a black cocktail dress dress, her famous arms bared, and black high-heel shoes.

Michelle Obama’s close encounters with Elmo, Big Bird and U.S. diplomats

Michelle ObamaU.S. first lady Michelle Obama told an audience at the U.S. mission to the United Nations that she was “thrilled” to be back in New York for the first time since her husband Barack Obama became the 44th U.S. president in January. But she said some things are even more exciting than addressing an audience of 150 U.S. diplomats, military advisers and other government officials.

“I’m thrilled to be here but I was just at ‘Sesame Street’, I’m sorry,” she said, referring to the long-running U.S. children’s television program. “I never thought I’d be on ‘Sesame Street’ with Elmo and Big Bird and I was thrilled. I’m still thrilled. I’m on a high. I think it’s probably the best thing I’ve done so far in the White House.”

Elmo
One of the biggest rounds of applause during the first lady’s 20-minute appearance at the U.S. mission in midtown Manhattan came when she read a letter the son of one of the mission staffers, Scott Turner, recently sent to the president.  According to Michelle Obama, Turner’s son Jack, a first grader,  wrote to the president:

Game Night AND Date Night for President Obama

It was unlikely that President Barack Obama, a big basketball fan, was going to miss the seventh and final game of a hard fought NBA playoff series between his hometown Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.  
 
get_thumbnail2But it happened to fall on one of the regular “date nights” that the U.S. leader had promised First Lady Michelle Obama upon their arrival in Washington in January. 
 
Solution: an early dinner at French restaurant Michel Richard Citronelle in Georgetown. A 14-vehicle Presidential motorcade pulled up outside the swanky restaurant, drawing hundreds of onlookers and blocking traffic as the upscale area’s Saturday night party scene got underway.  
 
The restaurant is one of Washington’s most exclusive eateries. A table was not available on its online booking system until May 29, and that was before the Obamas appearence made headlines and was widely Twittered. After the U.S. leader dined with Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty at Ben’s Chili Bowl in January, the landmark DC institution had queues outside for weeks. 
 
Although Citronelle’s website boasts that Conde Nast Traveler magazine called it “one of the world’s most exciting restaurants,” Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema was not so flattering in an October 2008 review. 
 
“Throughout a recent dinner at what used to be a four-star experience, an unmistakable joylessness courses through the fading underground dining room that bears the name of one of the country’s most esteemed chefs,” Sietsema wrote http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/restaurants/michel-richard-citronelle,795996.html#editorial-review 
 
Nonetheless, Sietsema added in his review that Richard and his staff still put on an impressive show. “I adore Citronelle’s tomato tart, which springs from a pastry base (and cucumber gelee) like a colorful bouquet. And sablefish marinated with sake, miso and mirin before hitting the broiler is about as good as that creature gets.” 
 
Like clockwork, two hours after departing the White House, the Obamas’ 14-vehicle motorcade departed cheering crowds in Georgetown and arrived home apparently in time for the Bulls-Celtics 8 p.m. tip-off. 
 
The President then took the First Lady for a brief stroll across the White House grounds, waving to photographers. Game Night could now begin. 
 
“Click here for more Reuters political coverage”

First Draft: It’s Take-Your-Kids-To-The-White-House Day!

MASTERCARD/AMERICANEXPRESSJust as the cherry tree blossoms pass their peak and not long after the Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn, there’s another hallowed Washington spring tradition: Take Your Child To Work Day. That’s when Type A parents with Type A jobs bring their kids to the office to give them some idea of what Mom and Dad do for a living — and that includes people who work at the White House, the State Department and on Capitol Hill.

First Lady Michelle Obama hosts the under-age crowd at the White House, with an event in the East Room at mid-morning. Her husband, President Barack Obama, is expected to be otherwise engaged then, and later is set to meet with credit card company executives, and it might not be suitable for children: presidential aides have labeled some of the companies’ practices “abusive.”

At the State Department, Secretary Hillary Clinton welcomes the kids at an event that, in keeping with discreet diplomacy, is closed to the press. Children and their working parents are also expected to visit Capitol Hill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is an enthusiastic supporter of the event.

First draft: New wax likeness of Michelle awaits Obama

If a bleary-eyed President Barack Obama, tired after a whirlwind 8-day tour of Europe with a stop in Iraq, accidentally wandered a few blocks away from the White House he might be surprised to see his wife Michelle all dressed up in a red and black outfit complete with pearls.

USA/

It’s not his real wife, but just a wax likeness unveiled this week at Madame Tussauds museum.  The wax Michelle Obama and a figure of the president are popular photo opportunities for tourists who take their photos making silly poses with the wax first couple.

Obama might have time for a quick trip to the Wax Museum today, because he has nothing on his public schedule after returning to the White House from his first international tour at around 3 a.m. this morning. Even Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has been given a reprieve from the daily public grilling.

First Draft: French kiss

Can this be France? What happened to the days when cross-Atlantic gauntlets were thrown down and French fries turned into Freedom fries?

President Barack Obama was welcomed like a rock star in a land notorious for its air-sniffing disdain of almost everything American. NATO/

Although first lady Michelle Obama is almost overshadowing her husband in media coverage about their European jaunt, with many comparisons to Jackie Kennedy who wowed them all overseas.

First Draft: Atlantic crossing

Greeted like a rock star last year in Germany when he was a mere candidate for the White House, Barack Obama will see what reception he gets in Europe now that he’s actually president.

Obama, in dark suit, and his wife Michelle, in white coat with black trim, walked up the stairs to Air Force One, did the obligatory turn and wave, and then they were off.

The arms issue may be raised again if the first lady decides to go sleeveless.OBAMA/

No matter what they think overseas, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Michelle Obama is quite popular at home, with 76 percent of those surveyed giving her a favorable rating.

First Draft: White House “victory garden”

USA/Spring blew into Washington this morning and the signs are everywhere: the cherry blossoms are starting to come out, magnolia trees are budding and at the White House, workers are digging up the lawn.

Um, what?

As it turns out, the Obamas are part of the local food movement and plan to grow veggies in a patch of lawn on the executive mansion grounds. This was front page news in The New York Times, and a big headline in The Washington Post’s well-read Style section.

Calling up memories of the “victory gardens” of World War II, when Americans were encouraged to grow their own produce to help the war effort, the White House garden is not a brand new idea. John Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt had gardens, while Woodrow Wilson had a flock of sheep and the Clintons grew some vegetables in pots on the White House roof.

First Draft: Heeeeere’s Barack!

OBAMA/As the AIG ire continues to bubble, President Barack Obama is in southern California, touring an electric vehicle plant, holding a town hall meeting with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and finally taping an appearance on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” He’s been on the show before, back when he was campaigning for the White House, and he’s hardly alone. Aspiring presidents from John F. Kennedy to Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton have found late-night TV audiences alluring. But Obama is the first serving president to sit on the “Tonight Show” couch.

It’s expected to be a chance for Obama to push his stimulus and recovery packages, and channel the outrage over taxpayer funding for troubled companies like AIG.

USA/Back in Washington, first lady Michelle Obama celebrates Women’s History Month by touring a school in the city’s Anacostia section and sponsoring events at 11 other schools around the area with other women accustomed to the public eye — singer-songwriters Sheryl Crow and Alicia Keys, gymnastics star Dominique Dawes, actresses Phylicia Rashad, Fran Drescher and Alfre Woodard, Google Vice President Marissa Mayer and Army Gen. Ann Dunwoody, the nation’s first female four-star general.

Did you break something at the White House?

Somebody did. And Michelle Obama knows who you are.

Talking in a television interview about how her family is adjusting to life in the White House, the first lady said her young daughters Sasha and Malia had been behaving well in the grand house filled with antiques and historic artifacts.

“We’ve had some guests who’ve broken some things but not the kids,” she said with a laugh in the interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America”.  “And they know who they are.”

Obama said her daughters have “done their popping” in to see their dad at work in the Oval Office and have generally adjusted well to their new life in Washington.OBAMA/