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Michelle Obama and Jill Biden rally support for military families

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden discuss joining forces at the White House

Jill Biden and Michelle Obama say it's time for Americans to show more love for the families of those who serve. — Photo by Art Streiber

Q: That's right. So if your kids are turning to you, whom do you lean on?

JB: I lost my mother two years ago, during the campaign, but I have four sisters, and I lean on them. I have great friends. I have Joe's sister, whom I'm very close to. And Joe really is my person to turn to. And our staffs — they're friends, really. It's women supporting women — a really important thing.

"You've got to know who you are. And a politician — it's never been who I was or wanted to be." — Michelle Obama

Q: Many women don't have this kind of support at all. Do you think it explains why so few are running for national office?

MO: Well, it's something that we need to work on — renewing the respect and value of public service. I think the cynicism that we naturally fall into about government affects whether a woman decides to make the level of sacrifice it takes to do this. I mean, Joe has sacrificed throughout his career and has needed a good, solid partner by his side. If a woman is in that role, she needs that same solid partner. So you've got people who have to weigh all that.

JB: And we need so much more diversity — racially, culturally. We need women to better reflect the social fabric of our society.

Q: Would either of you ever —

MO: The answer is N-O. Period, dot.

JB: No. [Laughter.] We're emphatic.

Q: That was pretty definite. And that's because?

JB: There was never a desire. I never wanted to run.

MO: I think one reason Jill and I are comfortable and happy is that we're doing what speaks to us. And what I've learned as a woman growing up, getting older, is you've got to know who you are. And a politician — it's never been who I was or wanted to be.

JB: I never took a political science course. [Laughs.]

Q: What have you learned from each other?

JB: Michelle is such a really great friend and a strong woman. I loved it when I opened the paper yesterday and saw her out there dancing with the kids for a Let's Move! thing. She has such positive energy, and she is making such a difference.

Q: You have a few years on Mrs. Obama. Have you given her any advice about living life after 50?

JB: Oh, please! [Laughs.]

MO: Let me tell you something. Jill gives whatever aging means this level of grace and excitement. She's smart, she's gorgeous, she's accomplished. She has a strong marriage. And the bonds she has built with all of her children are real. She has created a real family in the midst of Washington, D.C. She's managed to maintain that balance and still be down-to-earth.

Q: That's what AARP is all about.

MO: That's what I'm saying! Jill and I have an age difference, but [looking at] what she is doing at her age, I feel like I still have so much more to do. And that's the beauty of it — mature women are showing us that it gets even more fabulous if you've got it together and maintain your health, which Jill does. She is a runner. She is eating right. She is active and engaged. If I'm where Jill is at her age, I'm a happy camper.

Next: On the Joining Forces campaign. >>

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