October 2nd, 2012
04:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Michelle Obama: Debates make me nervous

Denver (CNN) - Watching her husband during a presidential debate makes Michelle Obama feels like an anxious mom, the first lady confided in an exclusive interview with CNN.

"I get so nervous at these debates," a laughing Obama told CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin. "I'm like one of those parents watching their kid on the balance beam. You're just standing there trying not to you know, have any expression at all."

Tune to CNN for Wednesday's presidential debate coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV, CNN.com and via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Web users can become video editors with a new clip-and-share feature that allows them to share favorite debate moments on Facebook and Twitter.

Although it may be difficult for her to watch her husband, President Barack Obama, debate on stage, she said she refrains from offering him advice beforehand. And after, she said, only gives "positive reinforcement."

"He doesn't need much advice," she said. "He's a very good debater, so I do tell him to have fun and relax and just be himself."

The full interview will run in the 7 p.m. ET hour on CNN Wednesday.

Some of the president's aides have said he's working on keeping his answers concise and steering clear of the long winded responses that have become a staple of his White House press conferences. When pressed to point out any of her husband's potential challenges headed into the first debate, the first lady demurred.

"He's a great speaker, you know? I mean he's good at this," she said. "Going into it ... He's gonna do his best."

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Critical Thinking

    " I do tell him to have fun and relax and just be himself." But Michelle, if he does be himself, he won't get re-elected. I'm sure you meant to say; have fun, and relax and be the person the country thinks you are. There that fit much better

    October 2, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. truth hurts

    "I'm like one of those parents watching their kid on the balance beam. You're just standing there trying not to you know, have any expression at all."
    Yes, and you shouldbe nervous, very nervous any time the Teleprompter President has to speak without a script. It has almost been ugly in the past. We are all anxious to see if Obama can honestly look the American people in the face and say he has been a good President with a straight face. 8.1% unemployment for over 33 months, $6 TRILLION more debt, $1.4 TRILLION annual deficits, pathetic job growth, near recession GDP, middle east in flames and a dead ambassador you lied about. And you say you want four more years?!! Do you think the American people have ALL become masocists?!!

    October 2, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Lady, do not be nervous–I am praying God for Obama and USA. Listen–when I visited Rome–I threw the coin in Trivi fountain and prayed to bring OBAMA back and USA economy, I did the same in India enroute my way. Yes, on obama12.

    October 2, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Jerry

    Michelle Obama: Debates make me nervous... They well should! You may be loosing 20+ personal assistants (slaves?!) and your cushy digs at the White House, as well as all those taxpayer payed vacations for your family and greedy friends.

    October 2, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. Woman In California

    At least you don't have to worry about his mental stability like the other wife does. The president will do just fine and he has my FULL support.

    October 2, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. CBR

    Barack Obama has Michelle. The debates would make anyone nervous. People will jump on you for any misstatement or wrong fact. If the candidates were allowed to tell us what they believed and how they would go about getting their mission accepted with Congress and the American people then that would be a good debate. Right now they are showing two people who run for office answering interviewers questions which are not fact-finding but rather intended to catch the candidates off guard. Therefore, I do not put much stock in them and do not watch them. I never thought much of the Kennedy/Nixon debates either.

    October 2, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. Sal

    Your great Mrs. Obama but it makes me nervous that your husband will do well and we get him for another four years of stagnation.

    October 2, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. rangerluna

    Don't know why it would make her nervous... so long as Obama tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

    October 2, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. Borderless

    Why are we interviewing the spouses at this crucial time in a presidential debates? It really doesn't add anything. I'll say the same thing I said about Michelle Obama. Not news worthy, next topic

    October 2, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  10. Trevor

    Hm I wonder why she is nervous...
    Obama has never had someone face to face ask him what the hell he thinks he is doing with this country. Lets hope Romney has enough of a spine to do so.

    October 2, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "you shouldbe nervous, very nervous any time the Teleprompter President has to speak without a script. It has almost been ugly in the past. "

    Oh give it a rest. Only whackadoo radicalized rigth wing teatroll nutjobs believe that. He's universally hailed as one of the best orators and debators of our generation and, perhaps, to ever sit in the Oval Office. You'd do well to try to refocus yourself on being a little more realistic. Hyperbole only really works if its at least got some small connection to reality.

    October 2, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. Rick McDaniel

    You should fear them.......Obama is used to having everything well prepared, scripted, and controlled. In a debate, that isn't totally possible.......even if he gets unfair advantage by getting the questions in advance, there will be an uncontrolled element, that could trip Obama up, rather badly!

    October 2, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    So, let's recap...

    Queen Ann: Planned, pre-programmed, fake-sounding sympathy blather about Mittens ' father that only served to highlight how little Mittens actually emulates his father in light of his refusal to release his tax returns.

    FLOTUS: Sounds real, admits to nerves/weakness, doesn't exactly appear to be trying to sell much.

    Learning anything yet, GOPers/Teatrolls?

    October 2, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  14. rosco

    Boy what a jerk she turned out to be, she has kids starving in school, has no class and married an idiot. Please take your jerk husband and go away, i dont care where just leave america

    October 2, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  15. warren

    BArack and michelle a winning team!

    October 2, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  16. Macmb

    Shes afraid of her hubby losing her job like the rest of the country has. Americans are so dumb to believe on a BS'er like Obama. This country still believes in Santa Claus. Obama is only worried about himself not the country.

    October 2, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. 200 TON HAMMER

    Mrs Obama. every thing is ok smile Mrs Obama,you are a Awesome First Lady of
    the Unitied States of America,Your Super Smart Husban Mr Presisent Obama,SHALL Do Very Well,And Thank you Mrs Obama For Been A Queen Of President Obama Dreams.

    October 2, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |