Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP
First lady Michelle Obama addresses the crowd during a campaign rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 17.

President Obama quickly backtracks after implying Michelle doesn't work

Michelle Obama has chosen a few select issues to advocate for. Her 'Let’s Move' program, encouraging children to get active to combat obesity, has been one of her trademark programs as first lady.

Michelle Obama has had a busy month.

She’s made campaign stops in nine states in October, NBC reported earlier this week. Her silly Vine video featured a dance to “Turn Down for What” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon — all in the name of healthy eating, of course. (She did however have time to eat dinner with friends earlier this week, the Washington Post reported.) 

So when President Barack Obama implied Tuesday that his wife does not work, he backtracked as soon as the laughter faded.

The lapse occurred when President Obama was advocating for fair pay for women at a rally for Wisconsin Democrat gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke Tuesday.

“I tell you, when Michelle was working, I wanted to make sure she was getting paid,” he said

“And by the way,” he continued, “I mean, I should point out, she is working really hard now as first lady and doesn’t get paid, but that’s a whole other thing. But — because I didn’t want her to think, like, what, I’m not working? Michelle works. I promise you.”

Before her husband assumed the presidency, the first lady was a lawyer at Sidley Austin, where she met Barack. She worked in Chicago’s public sector before holding positions at the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Hospitals.

And she hasn’t slowed down since the D.C. move.

Like Laura Bush, her immediate predecessor, Obama has chosen a few select issues to advocate for. Obama’s “Let’s Move” program, encouraging children to get active to combat obesity, has been one of her trademark programs as first lady.

Gossip sites have speculated on Obama’s future political career, speculating that she may seek a Senate seat.  (Her former communications director expressly denied these rumors in an interview with Politico, saying, “She is as likely to put her name in contention to be the next pope as she is to run for political office.”) 

A March Gallup poll found that her popularity has remained constant — with a 66 percent favorable opinion — since her husband took office in 2009.

“First ladies are typically viewed more positively than presidents, likely because their roles are often more ceremonial and invite less criticism compared with the president's active political and policymaking role. Laura Bush and Barbara Bush were each viewed more favorably than their husbands while they were in the White House. The recent exception is Hillary Clinton, whose favorable ratings were generally lower than Bill Clinton's until the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Michelle Obama has a more positive image than her husband does across all partisan and gender groups, but does particularly well on a relative basis among Republicans. This suggests she could be an important campaign resource for the Democratic Party this year as it fights to keep control of the U.S. Senate in the coming midterm elections.”

 Obama as a working mother is in no way an anomaly. A 2013 Pew Research Center report found that women make up about 46.7 percent of the workforce. That figure was 38.1 percent in 1970. About 73 percent of mothers were in the workforce in 2000. 

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