Michelle Obama sat down with for a conversation with Gayle King at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, where the former first lady made it clear that she wouldn’t wade into endorsing a 2020 presidential candidate.
While on stage Saturday, King asked Obama if she had any thoughts on the “dust-up” between Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden (who served with Barack Obama) at the Democratic presidential primary debate when the subject of racial segregation and busing was discussed, according to Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Epstein.
“I do not — I’ve been doing this rodeo far too long,” Michelle told King. “And no comment.”
At Essence Fest, Gayle King tries to get Michelle Obama to weigh in on the Biden-Harris spat. Asked if she has any thoughts on it, Obama says “I do not — I’ve been doing this rodeo far too long.”— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) July 7, 2019
"We have to start having some conversations, number one, about why is it so hard for us as women to put ourselves first." -@MichelleObama on the importance of taking care of ones' self, in conversation with @GayleKing at #EssenceFest— ESSENCE (@Essence) July 7, 2019
Read more: https://t.co/l92IXPu5Bm pic.twitter.com/ibiSjzOSxp
When asked for her opinion about the candidates, she maintained that she and Barack were not involving themselves with the primaries but would support the nominee.
“Barack and I will support whoever wins the primary. Our primary focus is on letting the process plays out. It is early and things will change,” she said, according to Essence. “The general election is so important and we have to get behind whoever comes out of that primary.”
“Our primary focus is letting the primary process play out, because it’s very early,” the mother of two told King, according to ABC News. “I mean, that’s one of the things that we learned in the campaign. It is early; it’s like trying to figure out who’s winning the World Series on the first seven games. I mean that’s where we are right now, it is so early.”
Biden previously revealed that he asked former president Obama not to endorse him early on.
Obama also opened up about the trials she faced during her husband’s presidency, explaining how vicious the environment was and how important it was for her to share her experience for younger generations.
“It was important to tell that part of my story because I know there are a lot of you kids out there who see me and Barack now…but they don’t remember how many punches we took to get there,” she said. “Now I’m Michelle Obama and beloved, but for a minute there I was an ‘angry black woman’ who was emasculating her husband, who was to be feard.”
She explained that when she became an “asset” to her husband by gaining popularity, people became more eager to criticize her.
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“People from all sides, Democrats and Republicans, tried to take me out by the knees,” she continued. “And the best way to do it was to focus on the one thing they knew people were afraid of — on the strength of the Black woman, so they turned that into a caricature.”
Overcoming those hardships was no easy task, but now, the bestselling Becoming author said she and her family “sleep well at night.”
“The Obama family is fine,” she told King at the end of their time together. “Because we have our health and we have each other. We sleep well at night.”