While President Obama was delivering a speech to the British Parliament on Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama used a visit to a prestigious girls school to give a rare glimpse into her life in the White House.
In prepared remarks followed by a Q&A at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School, she talked about what made her attracted to Obama and how she raises her daughters--as well as Hillary Clinton and whether the U.S. is ready for a woman president:
On whether she knew Obama would be president when she met him: "Absolutely not. No, I'm just kidding.... I knew he was a special person. And it had nothing to do with his education. It had nothing to do with his potential. And I say this to young women: Don't check off—there are a lot of women who have the boxes. Did he go to the right school? What is his income?"It was none of that. It was how he felt about his mother; the love that he felt for his mother; his relationship to women; his work ethic ... he wasn't impressed with himself. And he was funny. And we joked a lot. And he loved his little sister ... he was a community organizer. I really respected that.
"It was those kind of values that made me think you don't meet people like that often. And when you couple that with talent, and he's cute—you know, I always thought he would be useful. But I had no idea he would be president. I didn't think he was going to be president until the night we were standing on the stage and he actually won. I was like, 'gosh, look, you won.' "
On what she and Obama tell their daughters to help them achieve their goals: "Read, write, read, read. If the president were here--one of his greatest strengths is reading. That's one of the reasons why he's a good communicator, why he's such a good writer. He's a voracious reader. So we're trying to get our girls, no matter what, to just be--to love reading and to challenge themselves with what they read, and not just read the gossip books but to push themselves beyond and do things that maybe they wouldn't do.
"So I would encourage you all to read, read, read. Just keep reading. And writing is another skill. It's practice. It's practice. The more you write, the better you get. Drafts--our kids are learning the first draft means nothing. You're going to do seven, 10 drafts. That's writing, it's not failure, it's not the teacher not liking you because it's all marked up in red. When you get to be a good writer, you mark your own stuff in red, and you rewrite, and you rewrite, and you rewrite. That's what writing is."