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Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama’s political reunion amid rumours of rift

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WASHINGTON: First Lady Michelle Obama has shot down speculation that she is poised to enter politics while maintaining that the United States should elect a woman president ”as soon as possible” – remarks seen as an implicit endorsement of a prospective Hillary Clinton bid for the White House.

The First Lady’s comments at a White House conference on work-family balance came amid rampant speculation in Washington’s political salons that she is herself considering a run for the US Senate from Illinois and that there is bad blood between the Obamas and the Clintons.

Asked by a TV newscaster if her next move would be political, Michella Obama offered a blunt ”no,” saying it will be ”mission-based, service-focused.” But, she said, a woman president ”should happen as soon as possible,” adding, ”And I think this country is ready.”

Although the Presidential race season is still several months away (the mid-term Congressional elections comes first this November), there has been heated conjecture in Washington whether Hillary Clinton will run for the White House in 2016 and whether Barack Obama, who defeated her for the Democratic nomination in 2008, will endorse her.

According to some accounts, including a recent book by a conservative gadfly Ed Klein, things are frosty between the Obamas and Clintons, and the incumbent President hinted to his Democratic predecessor that his wife Michelle also had excellent political credentials after the former President hectored him about Hillary Clinton’s immense qualifications and why she would make the best candidate for the White House in 2016.

Klein’s book Blood Feud claims that Clinton told a friend ”I hate that man (Obama) more than any man I’ve ever met, more than any man who ever lived,” after Obama suggested during the 2008 presidential race that Clinton was a racist. Clinton takes great pride in being seen by some as notionally the ”first black President” of America on account of his liberal credentials. The book also recounts a dinner at which conversation between the foursome got snippy and icy over their political achievements and legacy issues.

While much of this, including Hillary Clinton’s reported ill-health, has been unsubstantiated grist for the extreme right-wing, the mainstream press is also feasting on a series of verbal flubs by the former Secretary of State at a time her every word is being watched and weighed.

The former First Lady has been pilloried for claiming at the start of her book tour this month that she and her family ”came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt,” adding later that her family had ”no money” at that time, mainly on account of their legal bills and having to put Chelsea Clinton through college. She followed it up by suggesting her family is no different from regular folks who pay ordinary income tax, although she and her husband got enormous sums of money as book advances and as speaking fees that clearly put them in the wealthy class.

In fact, the right wing press has gone to town about how Chelsea Clinton has landed a $600,000 per year job at NBC (more than the editors of New York Times) and she and her husband have bought a $10.5 million pad near NYC’s Madison Square Park. In contrast, the Obamas have said they would like their daughters to have some experience in minimum wage jobs, something they themselves went through.

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