Opinion: First Dog Bo grabs spotlight at Obama girls’ Christmas

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It was perhaps their first press conference -- or anyway, their first public words since they helped rescue the Thanksgiving turkey from his customary fate as centerpiece of the family’s dinner table.

Tuesday, President Obama‘s two daughters -- 11-year-old Malia and 8-year-old Sasha -- joined First Lady Michelle Obama in a holiday visit to the Children’s National Medical Center.


Well trained, the girls did not disclose anything too revealing. But as their mother visited with parents in the hospital’s kidney and heart units, First Dog Bo had a lot to say. His barks interrupted the first lady’s reading of ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas.’

‘He hasn’t seen Santa before,’ she told the kids at the Children’s National Medical Center, assembled for the occasion.

The Obama daughters took turns reading Caralyn Buehner’s ‘Snowmen at Night’ before answering questions from patients. And, White House press corps take note, the questions were pretty good.

Q: What’s Dad getting for Christmas?

‘Sports stuff,’ said the first lady, trying to preserve a zone of privacy. ‘It’s something he likes,’ added Sasha.

Q: How will Christmas be different this year?

‘Well, it will be easier to get on the plane than last year,’ said Sasha, to laughter.

Q: How many Christmas trees decorate the White House? This one needed some staff assist, but finally Mrs. Obama replied that there are 26.

‘Unfortunately, you don’t get presents under all of them,’ said Malia.

Full transcript below, as provided by the White House.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release December 22, 2009


Children’s National Medical Center
Washington, D.C.

3:36 P.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA: You guys have any questions? You can have questions for Malia and Sasha, too.

Q How will the holidays be different for you this year?

MRS. OBAMA: How will the holidays -- what do you think? Do you think the holidays will be different?

SASHA: Well, it will be easier to get on the plane -- (laughter) -- than last year. But I don’t think anything will be very different.

MRS. OBAMA: Yes, we’re doing the same things we usually do. Every year, ever since the kids were born and even before, we go to Hawaii, because that’s where the President is from. So we go with a group of friends. So as soon as all the work here is done, we’ll go there.

So we’ve done that ever -- I don’t think they’ve ever spent a Christmas --

MALIA: No, there’s that one Christmas.

MRS. OBAMA: There’s that one Christmas. Any other questions? Yes, sweetie. Here we have one, right there. You want to -- there’s a mic. It’ll be fun, talk in the mic, talk loud.

Q What did you get the President for Christmas?

MRS. OBAMA: Oh, I can’t tell. They’re going to -- (laughter.)

SASHA: They’re going to tell.

MRS. OBAMA: They’re going to tell.

MALIA: It’s something good, though. I hope he’ll like it.

MRS. OBAMA: It’s good. You know, we got him sports -- I got him sports stuff.

SASHA: We got him --

MRS. OBAMA: Don’t say it, just give it a category.

SASHA: I’m not. It’s something he likes. (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: Okay. Well, there you go.

Well, what do you want for Christmas?

Q A stuffed dog.

MRS. OBAMA: A stuffed dog. Aww. All right, Santa. All right. Okay. This little -- okay, we have one. And she in the pink had a question.

Yes, sweetie.

Q Merry Christmas, Mrs. Obama.

MRS. OBAMA: Merry Christmas to you, too.

Q How many Christmas trees are in the White House?

MRS. OBAMA: How many Christmas trees are in the White House? How many total are there? There are a lot.

MALIA: Like, okay, well, let’s see, one, two, three --

MRS. OBAMA: No, wait. (Laughter.) I think it’s 24. I think -- where’s my team? (Laughter.) It’s like 24 -- or 26 --

SASHA: Twenty-six.

MRS. OBAMA: Twenty-six. See, I knew it was close. Yes, that’s a lot of Christmas --

MALIA: Unfortunately, you don’t get presents under all of them. (Laughter.)

SASHA: What about the wishing tree?

MRS. OBAMA: Well, there’s one -- you want to talk about the wishing tree, one of the trees?

SASHA: One of the trees is called the wishing tree, and it is made out of cardboard. And so you can write down a wish and you roll it up and then you can put it one of the holes and it might come true.

MRS. OBAMA: So that’s a new tradition at the White House. So what we want you all to do next year is to come to the White House, because you can see all of them. It’s open to anybody who wants to come. (Bo barks.) You, too. (Laughter.)

All right, you promise me that next year you’ll come by the White House and see for yourself? Okay.

MR. SNOWDEN: Those were great questions, kids.

MRS. OBAMA: Those were great -- wait, wait, wait. We have one. We’re going to get them all in, I know. She had her hand up. Sorry, Mr. Chairman.

Q I was going to ask --

MRS. OBAMA: Just make something up. Do you want to ask Bo a question? Bo, can you answer something?

Q I was going to ask, people were saying we’re going to get our pictures. And I was going to ask, are we going to take them with you?

MRS. OBAMA: Take pictures?

Q Or are you just going to give one to us? (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: That’s a good question -- Alan. (Laughter.) Were pictures promised?

MR. FITTS: Shake hands with everyone.


Q What’s your favorite Christmas song?

MRS. OBAMA: What’s my favorite Christmas song? Oh, well, Malia and Sasha have been playing two that are just drilled into my head. ‘Carol of the Bells’ and ‘Jingle Bells.’

SASHA: Oh, Malia -- oh, yes.

MRS. OBAMA: Yes, we’ve heard that for months.

SASHA: Well, I don’t play ‘Jingle Bells’ as much as Malia plays ‘Carol of the Bells.’ (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: Those are my favorite.

SASHA: I’m getting bored of that song now. (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: All right. Okay, guys, we’re going to come around and shake hands. Thank you guys. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, happy New Year.

END 3:42 P.M. EST