Malia Obama Calls Dibs on Lincoln's Desk

Obama talks homework, history and happy family with Barbara Walters.

ByABC News via logo
November 26, 2008, 12:33 PM

Nov. 26, 2008 — -- Malia Obama, the 10-year-old daughter of President-elect Obama, plans to make herself right at home in the White House and has already called dibs on using Abraham Lincoln's desk for her homework.

Obama, who will move his family into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Jan. 20, said his oldest daughter came back from her tour of the White House with a plan.

"She says, 'You know, Daddy, I've got an idea,'" Obama told ABC News' Barbara Walters during an exclusive interview.

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"She says, 'Well you know how sometimes I have these, you know, big papers that I have to write? If I've got an important paper, a history paper, I think I'm going to go in that room where Abraham Lincoln, where there's that thing where he signed it?"

"You mean the Gettysburg Address?" Obama asked.

"Yeah. I'm going to sit at that desk because I'm thinking that will inspire big thoughts," she told her father.

"Hey, go ahead kid," Michelle Obama said with a laugh.

Her father said Malia is "quite the historian" and is sure she will be using the desk.

"That's her plan and she usually executes her plan," Obama said with a touch of paternal pride.

The soon-to-be first kids were afraid that the White House wouldn't be a kid friendly, but those fears were dispelled after their visit, Michelle Obama told Walters.

"Malia... said, 'You know, I thought this was was going to be an untouchable place. You know, the kind of place where you can't touch anything... But actually the White House is kind of homey,'" Michelle Obama said.

Like any home, especially one anticipating getting a dog, there was some good natured banter about what kind of dog to get, with Obama objecting to any suggestion that they get a "yappy" little "girly" dog.

He also wanted to be certain that his daughters are going to be willing to "scoop the poop" on the White House lawn.

Obama told Walters that his promise of a dog for Malia and her 7-year-old sister Sasha has produced an avalanche of advice and dog pictures.

"We're getting more advice about this than my economic policy," he said with a laugh. "No doubt about it."

More on Wednesday's "World News," and watch "A Barbara Walters Special: Barack and Michelle Obama" tonight at 10 p.m. ET

Obama got another suggestion during his sit-down with Walters, who suggested he get a dog like her Cha Cha, a small breed known as a Havanese.

Obama was immediately skeptical.

"But it's like a little yappy dog," the president-elect said.

"Don't criticize," a laughing future first lady Michelle Obama urged.

"It like sits in your lap and things?" Obama asked. "It sounds like a girly dog."

His wife reminded Obama, "We're girls. We have a houseful of girls."

Making an executive decision, Obama announced, "Well, we're going to have a big rambunctious dog of some kind."

Like any potential dog owner, Obama fretted about who would walk the pooch and pick up after it.

Acknowledging that Malia and Sasha are excited about the prospect of getting the pet, the soon-to-be First Dad said, "They're not excited enough to walk the dog, though."

His wife insisted it would become the girls' job. Not just walk the dog, Obama insisted. "And scoop the poop. ... We don't want to litter the White House lawns. So they're going to have to do their job."

The Obama girls are going to have other chores to do while living in the White House, including making their beds and cleaning their rooms.

"That was the first thing I said to some of the [White House] staff when I did my visit," Michelle Obama told Walters. "Because of course, the girls, they're so good. I said, 'You know, we're going to have to set up some boundaries. Because they're going to need to be able to make their beds'" and clean their own rooms.

Michelle Obama added with a laugh, "Don't make their beds. Make mine."

Barack Obama said he was intent on having his children know they are special to their parents, "But they're not special, you know, in terms of having to do their homework or having to do chores."