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After enjoying vacation with Barack in the Virgin Islands (opens in new tab) and South Pacific (opens in new tab), Michelle Obama made her first official public appearance yesterday since leaving the White House three months ago. The former first lady spoke about transitioning into her new life, what it was really like to move out of the White House, and that she would never run for office. She avoided mentioning Donald Trump during her remarks.
On not pursuing public office
Obama cited the wellbeing of her kids, Sasha and Malia, and the cutthroat nature of campaigning when she shut down the idea of running for office. "It's all well and good until you start running, and then the knives come out," she said during a Q&A at the AIA Architecture Conference in Orlando, Florida.
"Politics is tough, and it's hard on a family," she continued (opens in new tab). "I wouldn't ask my children to do this again because, when you run for higher office, it's not just you, it's your whole family."
"Plus, there's just so much more we can do outside of the office, because we won't have the burden of political baggage," she added.
On transitioning to her new life post-Obama presidency
The former first lady will still continue to work on issues she cares about, like her Let Girls Learn initiative and fighting violence against women around the world. "Public service will always be in our blood," she said, but it will take a while for Obama to fully adjust to life as a private citizen.
"I'm approaching new life after the White House in the same way that I approached coming into it," she explained. "I took a good year just to understand what this role means to other people and what spaces are out there, because one of the things that I'd never want to do is to be redundant in the work that I do and not add value, or to supplant any good work that's already there."
.@MichelleObama on life after the White House: "Public service will always be in our blood." However, #Obama has no plans to run for office. pic.twitter.com/V1TC8MVysXApril 27, 2017
On moving out of the White House
Though she might not run for president, Obama admitted it was emotionally difficult to leave the White House on Inauguration Day. Moving onto her new life was harder and faster than it looked.
"Leaving is just as quick as coming," she explained, noting that the furniture was already getting swapped during Trump's swearing-in ceremony.
"I've lived in the White House for longer than I've lived in any house that we've had, other than my childhood home," Obama said.
"You go from seeing people every day and hearing about their lives and giving them hugs and joking with them, and then you never see them again," she added. "They're on to the next family."
Former First Lady @MichelleObama shared many genuine stories today, including life in the White House at the @AIANational #A17Con in Orlando pic.twitter.com/MbGP6NaS5cApril 28, 2017
On how her daughters handled the move
Leaving the White House was a big transition for Malia and Sasha, but they handled it like normal teens—they had a sleepover with their best friends and indulged in pizza before saying goodbye to their childhood home.
"So that moment of transition, right before the doors opened and we welcomed in the new family, our kids were leaving out the back door in tears, saying goodbye to people, " the former FLOTUS explained. "They had a sleepover, because of course on Inauguration Day, because my girls are so normal, they're like, 'Well, eight girls are gonna be sleeping here because its our last time, and we want pizza and we want nuggets.' And it's like, really?"
Although the goodbyes were tough, Michelle had to remain composed for the moment she and Barack welcomed Donald and Melania Trump to their new home.
"It was emotional," she recalled, before slipping in a joke. "And then those doors opened, and I didn't want to have tears in my eyes because people would swear I was crying because of the new president."
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Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There is a 75 percent chance she's listening to Lorde right now.
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