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Michelle Obama says no to public office, but fans still want her as vice president

Melissa Gomez, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

One would think that after serving the American people for eight years as first lady, Michelle Obama would have earned some peace from the political spotlight with the freedom to pursue her own aspirations.

But as Joe Biden gets closer to announcing his running mate, the Committee to Draft Michelle Obama for VP made one more attempt to get the former first lady on the ticket.

"Mr. Biden must put forward the strongest ticket possible for a crushing landslide that not only unseats Mr. Trump but throws the un-American spirit of Trumpism on the ash heap of history," the group said in an open letter, co-signed by Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr., on its website. "One that also strengthens opportunity to win down the ticket and take back the U.S. Senate. This is why we encourage Mr. Biden to formally invite Ms. Obama."

Biden has promised to choose a woman as his running mate, and many of the potential candidates are Black women. When asked in April what his response would be if the former first lady expressed interest, Biden said he would choose her "in a heartbeat."

There is no question as to whether she is well-liked or well-known enough to garner votes -- in a 2019 YouGov poll she was the world's most admired woman, beating out Angelina Jolie and Oprah Winfrey. But Obama has repeatedly said she doesn't want to run for the White House.

As far back as March 2016, before the Obamas left the White House, she made it clear she would not return. "I will not run for president," she told an audibly disappointed audience. "Nope, no, not going to do it." She has not had a change of heart, at least publicly, since then.

 

Instead, she said she could make a bigger difference outside of political office. In 2018, she launched a nonprofit voter registration group, When We All Vote, to increase turnout among young people. That same year, she published her bestselling memoir, "Becoming."

There is no shortage of qualified candidates in the running, the committee's letter acknowledges, and they will support any eventual nominee. But it hasn't stopped people from trying to imagine Obama as Biden's running mate.

"The case for a Michelle Obama national candidacy has always been incredibly simple," Slate editor Jeremy Stahl wrote last month. "If you think that the most popular and qualified candidates with the widest appeal are the likeliest to win a national election, you should want her on the Democratic ticket."

Several Black women are strong contenders to become Biden's running mate. But a narrative of them being "ambitious" has prompted other Black women to publish an open letter condemning the racist and sexist tropes used to undermine them.

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