WASHINGTON – Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama’s legacy will now hang in the halls of the White House forever.
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“When future generations walk these halls and look up at these portraits, I hope they get a better honest sense of who Michelle and I were,” Barack Obama said. “And I hope they leave with a deeper understanding that if we could make it here, maybe they can do remarkable things, too.”.
The Obamas were welcomed to the White House on Wednesday, as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden revived a tradition of hosting former presidents for the unveiling of their official portrait.
In opening remarks, President Joe Biden highlighted Barack Obama’s accomplishments, such as passing the Affordable Care Act, as well as the deep relationship the Obamas and Bidens forged.
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“Mr. President, nothing could have prepared me better or more to become president of the United States than be at your side for eight years. I mean that from the bottom of my heart,” Biden said. “No matter what the issue was, no matter how difficult, no matter what it was about, you never did it what the easy way out was. It was always about doing what was right.”.
The event was held for the first time since 2012, when Barack Obama hosted former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush for their official portrait unveiling at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
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Former President Donald Trump during his presidency snubbed the Obamas and chose not to host an unveiling of the portraits. Traditionally, first-term presidents host their predecessor as a show of camaraderie in Washington.
This is the second time Obama has visited the White House since leaving office. He attended an event in April for actions to improve the 2010 Affordable Care Act. This is the first time Michelle Obama has visited the White House since her husband left office.
In his portrait painted by Robert McCurdy, Barack Obama is shown in a black suit with a gray tie. The background is completely white in the photorealistic portrait of the former president.
Michelle Obama’s portrait, which was painted by Sharon Sprung, shows the former first lady seated on a sofa in the Red Room, wearing a formal blue dress.
During her remarks, the former first lady hoped that her portrait will be an inspiration and a “reminder that there’s a place for everyone in this country.”.
“Too often in this country, people feel like they have to look a certain way or act a certain way to fit in,” she said. “But what we’re looking at today, a portrait of a biracial kid with an unusual name and the daughter of a water pump operator and a stay at home mom, what we are seeing is a reminder that there’s a place for everyone in this country.”.
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_.