Sibling rivalry, it turns out, remains a healthy competition even if you make it to the White House.
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Former first lady Michelle Obama said Tuesday that her older brother, Craig Robinson, remained their mother’s favorite child, even while she served eight years as First Lady.
“I am the First Lady but my mother is like, ‘When is Craig coming?,’” Obama recalled of their mother, Marian Robinson, who lived with the Obamas in the White House. “I’m like, ‘I live in the White House. What more do I have to do?’”
“I am the favorite,” Craig Robinson responded, alongside Obama, as the siblings spoke in an exclusive live interview with “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts in their hometown of Chicago.
Obama, 54, whose memoir, “Becoming,” was released Tuesday, said she had to turn to Robinson to convince their mother to move into the White House to be there for her granddaughters, Malia and Sasha Obama.
Robinson, an executive with the New York Knicks, joked that he succeeded by promising their mom that he would visit her more often if she lived in the White House.
“My mom, she is not the sort of intrusive in-law. She would never want to even stay over and babysit our kids. She’d go home,” he said. “She really didn’t want to join them in the White House for that reason.”
He added, “I just sort of positioned it like, you will helping your granddaughters out, number one, and if you move into the White House, then I’ll come to visit you more.”
Robinson credited his sister, the former first lady, with making the White House a welcoming place for their entire family and prioritizing family even with her busy schedule.
“Of all the things that I’m most proud of, and my sister has done a whole lot of things, a lot of initiatives, but one of the biggest things that was apparent to our family was how she made family imperative within our own sort of family,” he said. “Even though she was busy doing all these wonderful things, we had Thanksgiving at the White House, we had Fourth of July at the White House and our entire family felt a part of being in such a historical environment.”
Obama credited Robinson and their father, Fraser Robinson, who died in 1991, with being the kind of male role models that help shape strong women like herself.
“Here is the thing that I will tell men out there, for a girl to have strong men in her life, like I had, a father who loved me, a brother who adored me and cared for me, [it] made me stronger,” she said. “I want to make sure that men understand the importance of male role models in the life of a strong girl and my brother has been my hero from day one.”
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Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing some photos and memories from my book, BECOMING. My father, Fraser, taught me to work hard, laugh often, and keep my word. My mother, Marian, showed me how to think for myself and to use my voice. Together, in our cramped apartment on the South Side of Chicago, my family helped me see the value in our story, in my story, and in the larger story of our country.
Robinson described his sister as “a lot more relaxed” now that she is no longer serving as first lady of the United States.
“She is much more chill,” he said of Obama. “She’s always very frank and forthright but, you know, when you’re in the White House, you have to watch your words. We talk about all the time that words mean a lot.”
“She’s just been a lot more relaxed,” Robinson added. “Not that it’s more fun to be around her now, it was always fun, it’s just you can see in her face and in her movements that things are kind of relaxing. I’m sure her daughters feel the same way.”
Obama said on her bucket list in her post-White House life is more travel, without all the trappings that come as First Lady.
“We’ve been around the world and have seen the backs of hotels and elevators. I want to go back to those places and like walk in the front door, spend some time, see a sight without security,” she said. “There’s a whole travel bucket list of places that I want to go to and go back to.”