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Michelle Obama Works to Define Agenda as First Lady

First lady Michelle Obama is settling into her new role as she tours federal agencies, participates in community projects and highlights issues like bolstering support for military families. Analysts discuss her role and the public reaction.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Finally tonight, Michelle Obama settles into her role as first lady.

    Michelle Obama ventured out of Washington today for her first official solo trip since becoming first lady. She visited the Fort Bragg Army base in North Carolina, where she met with military spouses and families.

    Mrs. Obama's portfolio as first lady is still being filled out. She has famously said that she wanted to focus on being "mom-in-chief" to her two young daughters, Malia and Sasha.

    As a result, Mrs. Obama has spent her first weeks at the White House trying to make it more child-friendly.

  • U.S. FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA:

    Welcome to the White House.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    She recently invited 180 local middle school students over to celebrate Black History Month. And she and her husband had a swing set installed on the South Lawn.

    She has begun to introduce herself to her new Washington neighbors through charity work and school visits.

  • CHILD:

    I want to be first lady.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    First lady?

  • MICHELLE OBAMA:

    Nice!

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So far, the first lady's outreach has proven successful with the public, with one recent poll showing more than 60 percent of Americans view Michelle Obama favorably.

    But with that popularity comes intense scrutiny. Mrs. Obama caused a small stir in the media when she wore a sleeveless dress to her husband's speech to a joint session of Congress. And the first lady has invited curiosity by advocating for her husband's policies during visits to federal agencies, at times more forcefully than many expected.

  • MICHELLE OBAMA:

    Sound energy and environmental policies are going to help create thousands of jobs through the economic recovery and reinvestment plan that Barack is out there promoting today.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    With one official trip now under her belt, the first lady plans on leaving Washington again in the coming weeks, including travel to Europe with her husband later this month.

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