But, as controversy surrounds Sarah Palin's expense-account wardrobe, Obama says she's "empathetic"

By Pamela Warrick
October 28, 2008 08:40 AM
Kevork Djansezian/AP

Woman to woman, Michelle Obama gets Sarah Palin’s need for new clothes – but, she is quick to point out: “Whatever we wear, we buy.”

Admiring Obama’s bright yellow outfit Monday night, Tonight Show host Jay Leno asked, “What is it, about $60-grand? $60-, $70,000 that outfit?”

“Actually, this is a J. Crew ensemble … ” she responded.

“I have no idea what that means,” said Leno, wondering whether Republican vice presidential candidate Palin’s acceptance of as much as $150,000 in new clothes from Republican National Committee was “a bad move on her part.”

“I try to be empathetic,” the wife of presidential candidate Barack Obama said. “I mean, especially a VP pick, it’s like being shot out of a cannon … All of a sudden, you are the center of attention. But our policy has always been whatever we wear, for us, we buy.”

In a light-hearted conversation ranging from Barack-the-romantic to the Obama daughters’ political ennui, the would-be First Lady told Leno that while she enjoys campaigning, she doesn’t look at polls and stopped watching TV seven months ago.

“After Iowa,” she said, she learned that “you really take your cues from what you see on the ground.” And, she added, “You develop a thick skin.”

But her two young daughters, she added, “could care less. [When daddy comes home,] they’re like, ‘Let me show you my soccer trophy. I don’t really care what you do.’

“[But] Wednesday, he’s going to be on all the networks … and he’s describing this to my mother and we’re at the kitchen table and Malia sort of overhears – and she’s 10 – and she says, ‘You’re gonna be on all the TV? Are you gonna interrupt my TV?’

“And Barack says, ‘No, we didn’t buy time on Disney and Nick.’ And she says, ‘Oh good.’ And she got up and walked away.”

Asked how far ahead Barack is in the race for President, Obama told Leno that she doesn’t follow the polls. “I say this on the trail all the time: ‘Barack Obama is the underdog until he’s sittin’ in the Oval Office.’ When you’re named Barack Obama, you’re always the underdog,” she said.

Moving on, Leno also wondered how the Obamas celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary on Oct. 3: “So, is Barack a romantic guy?”

He tries, conceded Michelle, explaining that the media exposed his attempts. “He’s very romantic. He tried to buy me flowers and he did buy me flowers but I [read that] he bought me flowers before I got the flowers … I knew they were white.”

And he’s never too busy for his bride! “I thought we’d just skip that celebration cause he’s kinda busy and I said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ But he said, ‘No, I’m coming home,’ and he took me out to dinner,” she said.

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