Why Wasn’t Michelle Obama at the 9/11 Ceremony?

By Lee Speigel

Sep 11, 2008 6:58pm

Some readers have asked me why it was that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was without spouse at the 9/11 commemoration ceremony today in New York City.

After all, they point out, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was accompanied by his wife Cindy.

Where was Michelle?

The Obama campaign responds that Michelle was back in Chicago with her daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, since this is the first week of school.

The McCain kids, incidentally, have all graduated from high school (some long ago) with the exception of Bridget, who’s 16.

- jpt

UPDATE: As has been pointed out elsewhere, Michelle Obama did do some campaigning this week, in Indiana and Ohio. How does that fit in with the campaign’s explanation that she was too busy to attend the 9/11 ceremony because this was Sasha and Malia’s first week of school? I asked the campaign and will get back to you when and if it responds.

UPDATE 2: Here’s the fuller explanation of everything. Michelle Obama’s itinerary is scheduled well in advance to juggle childcare responsibilities and campaign duties, as she is the primary caregiver for the Obamas’ young daughters.  She regularly only travels two to three days a week with only one overnight away every so often from home. 

The campaign has dialed back her schedule since the Democratic convention because of the girls. This week, Mrs. Obama decided she needed to be home as much as possible for their first week of school. She needed to get them ready for school, be home, and put some normalcy back into their routine.  There were no overnights this week because of school. She had a long planned trip to Indiana, scheduled so she could bring her kids to school in the morning and only be away from them in the afternoon.

The campaign had originally thought the 9/11 Commemoration was just for the two candidates, and didn’t realize Cindy McCain was going until earlier this week. They debated changing her schedule, but ultimately decided that as important as the 9/11 Commemoration was, she wanted to be with her girls this week and was not comfortable being away from them for more than the previously scheduled afternoon.

An Obama spox says: “Both Senator Obama and Mrs. Obama are strongly committed to honoring the memory of those that perished on that tragic day.   That’s why Senator Obama put politics aside and reached out to Senator McCain to join him at ground zero yesterday.   While honoring the remembrance of 9-11, and like many families across the country, Mrs. Obama felt it was also important to be with her two young children.”   

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