Readers of US Weekly, a magazine that often shows celebrities doing everyday chores, would recognize exactly what the White House is trying to say: “President Obama, he’s just like us!”
Obama plans to spend time with a Minnesota woman Thursday in the first installment in what the White House is calling “Day in the Life” trips.
The president will hang out with “a hardworking mom,” first for lunch and then at “local stops” in her hometown, according to a White House official who would not be named discussing the plans.
The walkabout is supposed to be a few hours of normalcy for a man who spends his life accompanied by men with guns and a pack of noisy reporters -- but it's not the first one.
Obama has recently taken to busting out of the White House bubble for unexpected outings -- a Starbucks run with his chief of staff earlier this month, a walk across Lafayette Park to a meeting before that. This week, he went for an unscheduled burrito bowl lunch at a Chipotle restaurant.
“The bear is loose,” Obama quipped on one recent adventure, disclosing the years-old inside joke for when the president goes a bit rogue.
Obama, like most of his predecessors, has chafed at the confines of his office. Though he doesn’t often joke publicly about being a trained animal, he has mused about the relative freedom he will enjoy once out of office.
Aides say part of Obama’s love of golf is because the sport allows him to walk outside without being shuttled from place to place.
It bothers Obama, said one aide, partly because he's "sitting in the Oval Office, right up that hallway, making the kinds of decisions that he knows have a substantial impact on the daily lives of Americans."
“One of the things this president misses the most is the ability to walk down the street and talk to people,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
The White House isn’t wasting the political potential of these “just like us” moments. They packaged and publicized them on social media.
In the “Day in the Life” series, the president will chose to spend time with people who have written letters to White House. (Aides pick 10 letters a day for Obama to read each night.) Those chosen as temporary presidential pals will illustrate key White House policy priorities -- increasing the minimum wage or implementing his healthcare law, for example.
On Thursday, he’ll lunch with a woman named Rebekah, whose experience will illustrate the continued struggle of the middle class in the fragile economy, the White House official said.
The White House, apparently trying to preserve her privacy, has not released her last name, but local media and the Associated Press have identified her as 36-year-old Rebekah Erler.
She may learn more about what it's like in the White House bubble than Obama will learn trying to escape it. She’ll attend a town hall in a Minneapolis park and then be trailed by the same entourage as the president.
However, she isn’t expected to get a view of another, more rarefied part of Obama days: He’s slated to attend a top-dollar fundraiser at a private home in the evening.