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Michelle Obama talks Scandal, Valentine's Day, health care with Ryan Seacrest

While President Barack Obama embarked on his two-day economic opportunity policy tour, First Lady Michelle Obama went on her own official trip fundraising in California from Wednesday, Jan. 29 to Friday, January 31, 2014. While on the trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco for Democratic fundraisers for Midterm Election races, the First Lady spoke with Ryan Seacrest for his KIIS-FM radio show On Air With Ryan Seacrest on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014. The First Lady was being interviewed "in honor of the fourth anniversary of her "Let's Move!" campaign" encouraging healthy eating and exercise for kids and also promoted the President's health care law, the Affordable Care Act. However, the conversation veered to the personal where Michelle revealed some personal details about her favorite TV show, turning 50, being a mother of teenage girls and her plans for a romantic Valentine's Day with the President.

First Lady Michelle Obama being interviewed by Ryan Seacrest for his radio show On Air With Ryan Seacrest, Jan. 30, 2014; Mrs Obama discussed her Let's Move! campaign the health insurance sign-ups
Sadeo Turner / Ryan Seacrest Productions

Michelle dished that her new favorite show is ABC's Scandal starring Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, where Washington's scandal replicates the real Washington, and one of the hottest dramas on network TV. The First Lady admitted; "I hadn't watched it until this past vacation - we went to Hawaii so I had a long flight - so I watched all the seasons. I never watched it [before]." Michelle also praised the show's actress: "I love Kerry Washington. She is amazing, so it makes the show fun. It really does. It was fun to watch."

The First Lady turned 50 on Jan. 17 with a dance party at the White House attended by a who's who of the entertainment world, where she was serenaded by Beyoncé, John Legend and Stevie Legend. Michelle has taken turning the milestone birthday in stride and actually with enthusiasm. She told Seacrest that "I'm 50, I think everybody in the country knows that I am the 50. Just in case you missed it. But you know, quite frankly, I think everything gets better with age. You're more confident, you know yourself more, you're not concerned about what other people think. And if you've taken care of your health, many times you can be in the best shape you've been in…You watch your kids grow up and I know, my girls, they're starting to become real people with opinions and it's just so much fun to talk to them now."

Michelle also revealed that after planning her big 50th bash, President Obama has yet to make plans for the first couple's Valentine's Day. Even though there are no plans yet, the First Lady is certain they will be good, but probably "low-key"; "This year, again, I've had this big birthday celebration - my husband really celebrated me so well - he did a great job. I had a great couple of weeks, so I think we're going to low-key it for Valentine's Day. We have been married for 21 years and he never forgets a Valentine's Day, an anniversary, a birthday. He's really good at that kind of stuff."

Seacrest who is also the host of American Idol which just began its new season, asked the First Lady what song she would audition to. Staying true to one of the legends that serenaded at her party, Michelle revealed she would sing a Stevie Wonder song and even sung a line of a song on the air, but was certain she would not make it to the Hollywood round. The First Lady expressed; "I think by now people know that I love Stevie Wonder. He is a musical genius. He is one of my favorite artists of all time. And I would probably sing, 'You Are The Sunshine of My Life.' And then people would press a button and kick me out or whatever you do."

Speaking about their two daughters Malia 15 and Sasha, 12 the First Lady said they "lead as normal a life as possible." The First Lady explained that their home life is as down to earth, regular and normal with the same activities other kids their age participate in, being the first family does not intrude in their private sphere; "We make sure our home is a safe space for family, so that when Barack comes off the elevator and walks through the door, he's just Dad. And the girls are really good at that because they're more concerned about their issues. Like, 'Oh, Dad, tough luck! By the way, where's my allowance?' "

The family makes sure that they "eat dinner" together, where the topic is usually focused on their daughters' day at school, activities, friends and life. However, the healthy food the First Lay recommends as part of her "Let's Move" initiative is not always so appreciated by her own daughters, Michelle admitted; "We have a lot of, 'Finish your vegetables' conversations.'" While the First Lady divulged that her favorite soup is "turkey Italian wedding soup."

But when broached about their daughters dating, Michelle also said she does not know what the President will do with the girls' prospective dates when time comes; "I don't know what his strategy is… I don't know what his approach will be. We haven't really talked about it, we will cross that bridge."

The First Lady recounted how she applies the "Let's Move" campaign to her children. Michelle explained that "With regard to physical activity, we've always, since the time they were little, put them in activities as much as possible." Mrs. Obama stated thatshe and the President serve as role models to their children for working out and leading healthy lifestyles; "They've always had to do a team sport, as well as an individual sport, and they see us working out every morning. Barack and I work out together every single morning."

Michelle Obama described her daily work-out and exercise routine that keeps in that great shape and looking youthful; "I get up in the morning, usually either right before the kids go to school or right after, and I do about an hour and a half workout. I try to do 45 minutes of cardio and then whatever I'm doing that day."

On the more serious side of the interview, the First Lady also helped to sell the health care law, and encourage Americans to sign-up for health insurance, especially Seacrest's target audience, American youth who have lagged behind the most in signing up for the new health insurance. According to ABC News right now only 3 million have registered for the new health plans, and the White House hopes to reach 7 million by the March 31 deadline.

Most of the youth cannot see why they need health insurance, so the First Lady gave examples of how it can affect and help young otherwise health Americans; "I always joke about this, the young people are the ones out at the club at 3 o'clock in the morning and who's more likely to slip on some ice. And young people are doing these pickup games, all of sudden they're just going to play volleyball. Beach volleyball. Well, you twist your ankle, you cut yourself because you're just learning how to cook." She believes it is those freak accidents that you never believe will happen that do and the young need insurance to be prepared; "I mean, you know, life throws you some curve balls, and young people in particular need to have insurance."


Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are US, Canadian & Israeli politics.

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