ABC's Robin Roberts treated Michelle Obama to a thoroughly positive (and at times gushing) interview on Thursday's "Good Morning America," sympathizing with Mrs. Obama about negative ads against her husband and "The New Yorker" cover which cast her as a black militant. Roberts also touted how Michelle Obama "has turned her attention to...improving the lives of military families," and asked about "Obama family vacation traditions," such as heated games of Scrabble.
Throughout the nearly 6 minute session, Roberts posed no questions about the controversies that have dogged Mrs. Obama on the campaign trail, such as her statement that this year -- as her husband runs for President -- is the first time she has been proud of this country.
Roberts allowed Obama a lengthy monologue about the need to stay focused "on the real issues that matter to most families, and it's better gas prices, decent jobs, health care that makes sense and doesn't leave people, you know, out of the system" without ever asking the potential First Lady about how her husband plans to accomplish any of those things.
While light-hearted humanizing discussion is part of many political profiles, this interview would have been strengthened by tougher questioning of the issues important to the campaign.
A transcript of the interview that aired at 7:04 ET follows:
Robin Roberts: Now to our exclusive interview with Michelle Obama. I spent a jam-packed day with her in Norfolk, Virginia, where she was also spending a lot of time meeting with military families. We talked about a host of issues from the campaign trail including those controversial political ads. The Paris Hilton/Britney Spears ad, I mean, both sides have commented on that, good and bad and it seems that Senator McCain has gotten a little momentum following that Paris Hilton ad.
Narrator of a McCain Ad: He's the biggest celebrity in the world.
Roberts: What was your reaction when you saw it.
Michelle Obama: You know, frankly, I didn't see the ad. I rarely look at these ads so I don't know, you know, firsthand the content, I've heard people talk about it but first reaction is, you know, it's funny to have anybody characterize Barack as an elitist. You know, this was the kid who was raised a by a single mother who didn't have access to many resources, who, you know , has walked away his entire life from lucrative careers to work in the community. You know, we have to stay focused on the real issues that matter to most families, and it's better gas prices, decent jobs, health care that makes sense and doesn't leave people, you know, out of the system. Those are the kind of issues that Barack will continue to bring these conversations back to, and it's really all that the American people really care about.
Roberts: But the controversial "New Yorker" cover where you're portrayed as being militant, Barack Obama is being defined as a Muslim with the turban and that, as you know, caused quite a stir on both sides in this country.
Obama: Yeah, well, you know, again, I didn't focus too much attention on it.
Roberts: What did you think when you picked it up and you saw it?
Obama: You know, you think, well this is tacky, but then, you know, you move on. Then I pick up this great article about me in "Ebony," you know, so there's up and down, good and bad, um, you know, I just don't emotionally go to those high highs or those low lows.
Roberts: What she has turned her attention to is improving the lives of military families, she is traveling around the country listening to their stories of struggle.
Unidentified Woman: There's little assistance to help those who are affected by the downturn in the markets. Right now, many families are facing foreclosure.
Roberts: You said that you'll go back and you'll talk to Barack. That you are really here to listen?
Obama: That's right.
Roberts: What will you tell your husband?
Obama: You know, I'll tell him what I've told him in the past. That he -- I think he's on the right track with a number of the proposals that he's laid out but I'd also tell him that spouses are struggling and that you know, I want to remind him that when we send our troops to war, the families go with them and that we have to keep the funding in line to make sure that we're making sure that these families are whole and healthy and that they're not just surviving but they're thriving.
Roberts: You know, there are some people that look at this and say, you know what, it's a photo opportunity. That the reason you're here is purely political. What do you say to those people?
Obama: I've been doing this for awhile and, you know, for me this is real. This is personal because, you know, when you think about the quality of support that you would want for families, the assumption would be that the military families are getting that, right?
Obama: But then to find out that they're still struggling means that we have to get them on track, even before we can make sure that those same benefits and resources are available to all families throughout this country. So, you know, I hope to continue to do this no matter what the outcome of the election is in November.
Roberts: But one thing is for certain: the public's and media's appetite for the Obamas. The couple still feeling their way on how much is too much when it comes to their two young daughters.
Obama: I think we're all figuring this out and I've had an opportunity to talk to people who have done this before. Had a great conversation with Hillary Clinton, also talked to Tipper Gore. Lots of folks who have had great advice on how do you make sure that your kids are whole and grounded and part of it is keeping them -- keeping their worlds very much their own so we're learning and growing and figuring it out and making some decisions and changing our minds and moving forward so.
Roberts: Do you remember the advice Hillary Clinton gave you, because Chelsea has never really -- few of us have even heard her voice.
Obama: I think you see her advice in her actions and I think she's done an outstanding job at modeling, you know, how to keep the kids out of it. And she's a strong advocate of that and I respect that. She's been just amazingly gracious in her advice and sharing her wisdom and I've been truly grateful to her.
Roberts: And how is this potential First Lady handling the pressure of her impending convention debut?
Obama: I'm not in the anticipatory mode yet because, quite frankly, we're going on vacation.
Roberts: That's what you're thinking of before the convention is vacation.
Obama: Yeah, one step at a time.
Robers: Going to Hawaii.
Obama: To visit, um, Barack's grandma.
Roberts: Is there any kind of Obama family vacation traditions or--
Obama: There can be mean games of Scrabble. He and his sister Maya, oh, they are deadly. In fact, sometimes we all just walk away and let them, you know, compete into the night.
Roberts: But despite the whirlwind days of the campaign and the media frenzy that ensues, she still remains grounded.
Obama: I am Michelle Obama. I live in Chicago. I'm married to this guy Barack. That's about it. That's about how I see myself.
Roberts: And her day was not finished after that. She headlined a fund-raiser last night with Virginia Governor Tim Kaine who, of course, who of course is said to be on her husband's list for VP though she wouldn't indicate one way or another how that is playing out. And you'll see more of the day with Michelle on "Nightline" tonight, and look forward also to the opportunity to spend a day like this with Cindy Mccain out on the campaign trail very soon.
Diane Sawyer: I'm imagining smack down over a triple word score in Scrabble.
Roberts: Could be.
Sawyer: On those vacations.