Former first lady Michelle Obama gave everyone some insight into a viral moment that occurred when she held hands with former President George W. Bush. It happened last month at Senator John McCain’s funeral, when the entire internet caught wind of a photo showing the two holding hands. During an appearance on the Today show, Obama spilled: that gesture was all about getting some candy. Specifically, she says, cough drops.
“I didn’t realize at the time that anybody noticed what we were doing,” the former first lady told co-hosts Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie. “[President Bush] is my partner in crime at every major thing where all the formers gather. So we’re together all the time, and I love him to death. He’s a wonderful man. He’s a funny man.”
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Obama went on to explain that she needed a lozenge and President Bush was more than happy to oblige. Only when she got them, Obama recognized them as official White House cough drops, which meant they weren’t exactly fresh.
“They were old cough drops,” she said. “That’s the funny thing, because they were in the little White House box, and I was like, ‘How long have you had these?’ And he said, ‘A long time, we got a lot of these!'”
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As for why the photo touched so many people? Obama said that it’s the bipartisanship that most people embraced. In a time when so many see the country as divided, seeing two people reach across the aisle was unusual and made the entire world pay attention. She didn’t intend for the moment to go viral, but she’s glad that the photo got so much exposure, since it was sending such an important message about working together.
“That’s what people are hungry for,” she said. “Party doesn’t separate us; color, gender, those kinds of things don’t separate us. It’s the message that we send.”
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