February 10th, 2010
08:01 AM ET
4 years ago

Michelle Obama sidesteps questions about Palin


Washington (CNN) – First lady Michelle Obama sidestepped questions Tuesday about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has been publicly critical of her husband's presidency.

"I try not to make or set opinions about people I haven't had any substantive interaction with," Michelle Obama said in an interview scheduled to air on CNN's Larry King Live. "I mean, I know what you see on TV."

Asked later if she considered the 2008 vice presidential nominee to be a "phenomenon," the first lady again withheld criticizing Palin.

"Again, I mean, I think it's wonderful to have strong, female voices out there, but I don't know her," Obama said.

With her keynote address at last week's Tea Party convention, Palin has continued a pattern of hard-hitting critiques of President Obama that began on the campaign trail in 2008.

The first lady did defend her husband's record after a year in the Oval Office. "Democracy is about critique and the president is not immune to criticism," she said.

"I think he is doing a phenomenal job," she continued. "We have to think about where he was when he took office. We were on the brink of a depression - worse than anyone really ever imagined. And I don't think the country really knew how bad things were.
And because of some important steps; quick thinking; smart, strategic thinking, we're not even talking about that. We've got to do more on jobs. We need to get health care [reform] done. There's a lot of work to be done. We need to do more to improve the civility in Washington and if there's a disappointment - Barack wishes that we'd come farther in that effort."

The first lady appeared on CNN the same day she announced an initiative Tuesday to fight childhood obesity.

Note: The Michelle Obama interview airs on Larry King Live Tuesday beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Paul Ernest Show

    Its been the idea of some media outlets to promote the idea of Sarah Palin running for the presidency. Palin has acquired some name recognition but America ought to come first before big names and pretty faces. We did that with George Bush and look where we are. Americans should start thinking about what's good for America's success and not how to help some bimbo succeed in politic or how to make a political party succeed in elections. The last time a lawyer led the country we had surpluses and I rather prefer that a professor lead us than an individual who had to write answers and notes on the back of her hands and have folks email her ideas on how to reason on issues. What happened to Barbour, Gov Perry, Newt Gingrich etc, that anyone wants to promote Palin for presidency? America, wake up! Palin for presidency is putting America at risk.

    February 9, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  2. Formula

    She made her thoughts known and allowed them to stand on their own without striving to bring down the "other side". Michelle's an example to us all.

    February 9, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  3. Kate

    What a wonderful first lady. She is very respectful and doesn't degrade anyone. I think Sarah Palin has a long way to go in that respect. Michelle is real. Nothing fake about her. We love you and the Pres.

    February 9, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  4. m smith

    The first lady is a class act and the fact that she lends her comments to more important things show this. What does the public want? She is interested in healthy eating and working on that she does not need to be bothered with comments about someone not even holding a public office.

    February 9, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  5. EC

    Folks can criticize the Obamas all they want, but at the end of the day, you have a couple who is willing to STEP up and make a difference in our country and in our lives. It DOESN'T matter whether you are a DEMOCRAT, REPUBLICAN or and INDEPENDENT, White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Rich or Poor...... when your child is sick or my mother is sick, WE ARE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT. Bottom line.

    We all WANT our families to have the best health care possible. But until we as a NATION come together and STOP making this a political issue and START making it an HUMANITARIAN ISSUE, more and more Americans will continue to die at a faster and younger age. This could mean the death of your mother, father, son, daughter, sister and brother if we don't reform healthcare.

    Healthcare reform is not perfect nor will it solve every problem, but it's a start in the right direction. We as a nation HAVE to start somewhere, doing nothing is unexceptable.

    February 9, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  6. Sadie

    Michelle is 1st Class......to bad Palin doesn't know how to shut her mouth and keep her opinions to herself.......I don't think she has ever met the President and sat down with him long enough to make some of the crude remarks that she makes.........but this is the example of a 1st Class lady (Michelle) oppose to the Trailer Trash Mouth Palin......Palin can never or will ever be able to set any examples of an educated lady, every time Palin opens her mouth she inserts her foot......what a real example of Mental Retardation.........

    February 9, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  7. Pragmatic

    You can see the difference between a classy lady and a wannabe. Palin would not hesitate to slam the First Lady but since the First Lady has not met Palin, she is unwilling to be critical of someone she hasn't met or interacted with.

    Maybe Palin can write her talking points on her hand if she ever has an in depth conversation with the First Lady ... but then again ... Palin might be embarrassed to meet with the wife of someone she believes is a "terrorist" ... as she said, repeatedly.

    February 9, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    Michelle Obama is such a classy lady! I'm so happy she's in the White House!

    The witches on the right (Palin, Coulter, Ingraham, etc.) could learn a thing or two from First Lady Obama about intelligence and poise.

    February 9, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  9. MsDp

    This such a cool, classy and smooth lady (just like her husband, my President). Keep up the good work!!!

    February 9, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  10. dale

    IT nice to have classy well educated and well spoken folks in the WH. If they honor us by running again in '12 they'll get my vote, you betcha.

    February 9, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  11. Carl Justus

    Michelle Obama has ten times the class as Sarah Palin. She is a real first lady and I wish her well all the things she undertakes in her life.

    February 9, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  12. Connie

    Michelle Obama avoiding comments about Palin...now that is what I call character and class. That is a lead many of you need to follow instead of just shooting foul comments from the hip about whatever is being reported.

    February 9, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  13. splat!~

    Michelle Obama is a discreet, classy lady. Sarah Palin, well at least one of the two is a discreet, classy lady.

    February 9, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  14. JWB

    What a great First Lady.

    February 9, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  15. Stacie

    Very classy as always.

    February 9, 2010 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  16. Nini

    Mr. King why don’t you ask the first lady what did her husband mean when he said “ We are few days away from fundamentally transforming America”?
    And what he doesn’t like about America that he thinks it needs to be “fundamentally transformed”.

    I think that is a more important questions than how do you feel about Palin.

    February 9, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  17. terry,va.

    Alaska in DC. Palin is already changing the weather.

    February 9, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  18. Stephanie - Maryland

    First Lady Michelle is a classy woman. It's imperative she defended her husband who has lead this country for the past year. First Lady Michelle thank you for the issues of health for children's obesity. May Our LORD continue to Strengthen you with HIS Grace & Faithfulness.

    February 9, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  19. darryn davis

    I think we can all try that approach

    February 9, 2010 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  20. Davon

    What a smart, ensightful comment by the First Lady. I would love the see her run for office vs. Palin.

    February 9, 2010 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  21. gerryluimes

    What a classy lady !

    February 9, 2010 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  22. Michelle Obama is NOTHING to me!

    She may have staff paid millions to do her make-up, do her hair, do her clothing, position her in all the "right" places.

    BUT - I will NEVER forget that - with ALL of the affirmative action help she got from America to advance her education and career - she could NOT be proud of America (until her husband ran for the presidency).

    There is NOTHING Michelle Obama can do or say that will impress me - EVER! EVER!

    February 9, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
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