tv President Biden Hosts Portrait Unveiling for the Obamas CSPAN September 7, 2022 8:37pm-9:27pm EDT
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>> mr. president, dr. biden, president -- mr. obama, misses obama, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the ceremony. and the chairman of the white house historical solution and on behalf of the men and women of the association, i am thrilled to celebrate with all of you the presentation of two and nevis in american portraits today to honor and commemorate the indelible legacy of the 44th president and first lady. misses obama, president obama,
it is a privilege to be able to carry forward this time-honored tradition in of unveiling the official portraits and welcome them to the white house to be forever accessible and viewed by the public on these historic walls. since its founding in 19 6215 first lady jacqueline kennedy, the white house historical association has been a service and a privilege to be able to acquire official portraits of those who previously were missing from the white house collection and all of the portraits on record of each president and first lady since their founding. surviving the modern era of photography and film and technology, few mediums can transport us with such immediacy and intimacy in the american portrait. capturing at once the power, restraint, courage, and beauty
of the human spirit, the portraits of the first family stands apart, each a painstaking exploration of a single or person, a life conveyed in still, otherwise fulfilling the obligations to their oath. more than just the unveiling of these works today, it is integral to the broader set of symbols, rituals, and emblematic gestures distantly american to sustain the appearance and standing of our republic. ranging one presidency to the next, the way we do one generation to the next, honoring the past as much as we look to the future. as we become more culturally and demographically diverse, with ideas that are both molten and disparate pertaining to the future of our nation, our work
continues toward america. it has never been more intertwined with preserving what has been symbolically and foundation only at the heart of our storied resilience as a nation. in this way today, as a reminder that america is governed not by a disconnected series of presidents, but rather by the enduring presidency, and within the greater story that is told by the 43 other portraits, we celebrate their contrast and complements. certainly artistically, but also this distinguished chapters in the american narrative. notably today, as the first black americans first family at 1600 pennsylvania avenue. [applause]
and with whom we shared the joy of watching your wonderful daughters grow up here and come of age. misses obama, we thank you for your advocacy on behalf of this house and for making it possible for visitors to take pictures of these magnificent portraits among the other historic effects throughout the white house. i have the personal privilege of being with you and your mom when we inducted your inaugural down into the historical -- national museum. your beauty in this count is only exceeded by the woman who wore it. [applause] and whose spirit is captured in this portrait.
the tradition of service continues with dr. biden. she is our steward. we are honored that you are with us when we celebrated our 50th anniversary and we look forward to our continued work with you on the educational mission of our association. we are ever thankful to you, and you mr. president, for hosting this wonderful ceremony today. and to our artists, we are grateful for your partisanship and dedication to your own craft. together, these portraits fulfill a beautiful collaboration and are testament to what is possible when we serve one another in an effort to give voice to one another. i suspect that beginning tomorrow, these two portraits will be the most photographed by visitors from across the united states of america. [applause]
it is now my pleasure to introduce an admirer of great institutions and national treasures, the president of the united states of america. [applause] pres. biden: thank you. [applause] thank you, thank you, thank you. [applause] many thanks. thank you all very much. please. [cheering and applause] thank you, thank you, thank you. thank you john rogers. barack and michelle, welcome
home. [applause] we are honored to host you into so many friends -- and so many friends as part of this journey. some of them were foolish enough to come work with me. [laughter] there is someone else i would like to acknowledge tonight. this is robinson -- mrs. robinson, this is your house as well. [applause] it is good to see you again, really is. it is also good to see ms. wi lson, mama kay. [applause] one of the best friends and their godmother. you done good, kid.
president kennedy once observed every president must endure the gap between what he would like and what is possible. he was right. the history books are full of stories about presidents trying to bridge that gap. the burden of the office, difficult decisions, how the work is serious and often sullen. all of that is true. so is this. with barack as our president, we got up every day and went to work full of hope, full of purpose and excited about the possibility before us. there are few people i have known with more integrity, decency and moral courage than barack obama. [applause] mr. president, nothing could
have prepared me better or more to become president of the united states than to be at your site for eight years, and i mean that from the bottom of my heart. no matter what the issue was, no matter how difficult or what it was about, you never did it the easy way, the easy way out. it was never about doing that. it was always about doing what was right, literally. just go down the list of historic presidencies. he never gave up in the simple truth that health care was a right for all americans. so many were telling him, including the at one point, take the compromise. take the compromise. we were not sure we can get anything done. think about the compromise. you refused. you went big, and now the affordable care act is even being approved on. [applause]
i remember what you told me. how can i look those people in the eye and leave anybody behind? you were not about to do that. the recovery act wrought america back from a great recession. the auto rescue protected and iconic industry that represents the nation's heart and soul. there are a whole lot of people, some in this room, telling you we should lead the industry go bankrupt, let it go. but you would not, you insisted. i remember our conversations. i am proudly stood together and would not let it happen. you bet on the american worker, you believed in the american worker. even though we knew it would be controversial, he stood up for hundreds of thousands of dreamers. dreamers who only know america as their home. a three-year-old kid is going to
say, leave me in rio grande, i am going to go. they have contributed their talents, it is a great generation they represent. i can go on and defend all that you have done. the climate crisis, helped us find amazing grace, even in darkness. countless hours over countless meetings under and test -- intense pressure. we always knew barack obama, we always knew you would do what was right even if it would cost you politically. we trusted him. we believed in him. we counted on him. and i still do. i still do. [applause] that is why the country elected
you twice. that is why you will be considered one of the most consequential presidents in our history, along with one of the most consequential first ladies. michelle, he knows, we all know, he cannot have done it without you. [cheering and applause] i know i couldn't. in fact, we had lunch once a week every week, come hell or high water. everybody wandered important things we talked about. 40% of the time, we talked about family. we talked about our girls, my grandchildren and children. you embody dignity beyond measure, michelle. together, you and barack made history. you both generated hope for millions of people who were left behind for so long. it matters. you both did it with such grace and class. you dream big, secured lasting
wins for the american people to lift their burden with the blessing of hope. it was so underestimated, having hope. this is a gift to the obama presidency, the country in history. a gift i felt personally. as we used to say in the senate, mr. president, you are always there. i remember how you were with me when our son was passing. i remember the eulogy you gave on his behalf. you will never fully understand just how much it meant to jill and me and the entire family. i always remember the night we accepted the nomination in denver. my granddaughter, a great friend of your daughters, came up to her room and said, "can we move the beds out of our room?
" so her two sisters could all get sleeping bags and lined the floor and watch the convention on the floor. that will stay with me forever. i think it melted our families in ways that is hard for other people to understand. for eight years, we grew to be a family. for each other, through our highs and lows. family from different backgrounds, brought together by shared values. all the things the families have done together, i imagine there may have been other relationships like this with president and vice president, but none come to mind. joe and i have been waiting to host events at the white house for a long time coming out of the pandemic, it is fitting that we can do it now by unveiling the portraits of two dear
friends integrate americans, who are still held tightly in the hearts of the american people. portraits that will hang on the walls of this sacred place forever. and a reminder of all here and now for those who come to power that hope and change matters. barack and michelle, it is my honor to invite you to the stage for the unveiling of your portraits. come on up. [applause] mr. obama: here we go. [cheering and applause]
your hospitality. thank you for letting us invite a few friends to the white house. we will try not to tear up the place. [laughter] someone -- [laughter] someone once said, if you are looking for a friend in washington, get a dog. our family was lucky enough to have two wonderful dogs. i was even luckier to have a chance to spend eight years working day and night with a man who became a true partner and a true friend. joe, it is now america's good fortune to have you as president. [applause]
[cheering and applause] you have guided us through some perilous times. you have built on and gone beyond the work we all did together to expand health care, fight climate change, advanced social justice and promote economic fairness. thanks to your decency and strength, maybe most of all things to your faith in our democracy and the american people, the country is better off than when you took office. we should all be deeply grateful
for that. thank you so much. [applause] to all the former obama biden staffers who are here in person, some of you are watching and home. thank you for being a part of this. when people ask me what i miss most about the white house years , it is not air force one that i talk about. although i miss air force one. [laughter] it is the chance i had to stand shoulder to shoulder with all of you. to have a chance to witness so many talented, selfless, idealistic, good people working tirelessly every day to make the world better.
for eight years and even longer for some of you, i drew on your energy and your dedication and your goodness. you inspire me. i never want to disappoint you. i tried to reflect the same heart and character you displayed every day. even during the toughest times, it was all of you that kept me going. so it is good to be back, to have a chance to see all of you. and once again, say thank you. as much as i miss our work together, what has been a special joy is to see what has happened since. because so many of you are doing amazing things, whether it is in government, the private sector, academia or nonprofits.
i am especially glad to see so many of you serving president biden as well as you served me. although, some of you -- let us face it. you were kids back then, are now in charge and running the show. [laughter] which is a little shocking. [laughter] and may also explain some of the gray hairs i am seeing on some of you. but it validates what i had always hoped, which was that our time together would only be the beginning of incredibly impactful careers. and some of you, who i have had a chance to stay in touch with, i am thrilled to see you started families of your own. i am a little disappointed i have not heard of anyone naming a kid barack yet. or michelle. but there is still time. [laughter]
finally, i want to say special thanks to the white house staff. [applause] you took incredible care of our family for eight years. along the way, you became a part of it. we have not ever forgotten the kindness that you showed us. now, when michelle and i had our portraits unveiled at the national portrait gallery a few years back, i set as far as i could tell, no one in my family tree had ever set for a portrait before. i certainly had not.
now, all of a sudden, we have done it twice. but these portraits have a special significance. because, as mentioned, they will hang in the white house alongside portraits of other presidents and first ladies dating back to george and martha. it was important to find the right people to paint them. i want to thank sharon for capturing everything i loved about michelle. her grace, intelligence, and the fact she is fine. [laughter] [applause] her portrait is stunning.
and i want to thank robert for taking on a much more difficult subject. and doing a fantastic job with mine. [applause] robert is known for his paintings of public figures. toni morrison, the dalai lama, nelson mandela, muhammad ali. i love about robert's work as he paints people exactly the way they are. for better or worse. he captures every wrinkle on your face, every crease in your shirt. you will note he refused to hide any of my gray hairs. refused my request to make my ear smaller. [laughter]
he also talked me out of wearing a 10, by the way. -- tan suit, by the way. [laughter] [applause] his work is so precise, but at first glance it looks like a photograph. robert also paints his subjects looking straight ahead, so it feels like you are face-to-face, forming a connection. that heals me in part because presidents so often get airbrushed, take on a mythical status. especially after you have gone, and people forget all the stuff they did not like about you. but when you realize when you are sitting behind that desk, and what i want people to remember about michelle and me, is that presidents in first ladies are human beings like
everybody else -- and first ladies are human beings like everybody else. we have our gifts and our flaws, you experienced mine. we have good days and bad days, we feel the same joy, sadness, frustration and hope. and while it takes a certain amount of self-confidence to be president, there are nights that we lie awake wondering if this or that decision was the right one. i have always described the presidency as a relay race. you take the baton from someone, you run your leg as hard and well as you can, then you handed off to someone else. that hand it off to someone else , knowing your work will be incomplete. the portraits hanging in the white house chronicled the runners in the race. each of us trying to bring the country we love closer to its highest aspirations.
when future generations walk these halls and look up at these portraits, i hope they get an honest sense of who michelle and i were. i hope they leave with a deeper understanding that if we could make it here, maybe they can, too. they can do remarkable things, too. now, it is my pleasure to introduce someone who needs no introduction. michelle was the best thing about living in the white house. let me tell you, the pastry chefs delivered delicious pies on request. that is saying something. [laughter] i could not ask for a better life partner and, in my humble opinion, america could not have asked for a better first lady area please give it up for michelle obama.
[cheering and applause] mrs. obama: thank you, thank you. [cheering and applause] thank you, everybody. let me thank my husband, first of all, for such spicy remarks. [laughter] and of course, thank you to joe and jill, president biden and first lady jill biden. thank you for inviting us back, this means so much to us. we were saying at lunch that the
girls have lived in this house longer than they have lived anywhere. this is as wonderful as it can be, it is a special place because we raised our girls here. it means so much to come back to friends and be able to spend time talking about our girls. i am grateful to both of you for the work you are doing, the love you are showing us, our staff and the work you are doing for this country. thank you so much. [applause] of course, vice president harris and i love to say this, the second gentleman.
you are doing a great job. [applause] thank you for joining us today. i cannot go any further without of course acknowledging all of the amazing staff, friends. you are more than stuff, you are friends, family to us. particularly the people who have been part of my team over the years. i do not have time to name everyone, thank goodness. you all know who you are, from the campaign to the white house to today. i would not be who i am without your passion and your faith, and all of the love you poured into everything that we accomplish together. it was amazing. historic. unprecedented. [laughter]
you all mean the world to me. i mean that from the bottom of my heart. so thank you, proud of you. right of the work you have done and part of what you are doing. -- proud of the work you have done and proud of what you are doing. i want to recognize the resident staff, you made this a home. we snatched up a few of you and took it with us. but for those of you we could not bring, we miss you so much. we miss you so much. the best part about this house was you all. it is so good to see you, you all look so good. i would also like to recognize stuart and john, it hasn't -- has been amazing working with you. i have to recognize bill, who has been fabulous to work with. [applause]
and, of course, thelma and my dear friend michael smith. we are where we are because of their comprehensive and rigorous work to identify these incredible artists. that brings me to the artists. of course, robert, you did a good job. [laughter] did a good job. but i got to spend a lot of time with sharon, and sharon now joins a small but mighty group of women who have painted an official portrait here at the white house. [applause] and i am thrilled that this
extraordinary work is going to be enshrined forever as part of our nations history. sharon, it was wonderful to work with you. you are a true spirit, that is one of the reasons we connected. your work is phenomenal, but it was your essence, soul, the way you saw me in the way we interacted, and it shows in this beautiful work. so thank you for your brilliance, your artistry and your patience. i remember, i went to see the work in brooklyn. poor sharon, no one is supposed to know who the artists are. her studio is her home. so she had this piece in her home, you cannot have guests over. you were frightened it would get out. you just wanted it out of your space. and every year, i thought she must be going crazy. so thank you. thank you so much. [applause]
believe it or not, it is still a bit odd for me to stand in this historic space, see this big beautiful painting staring back at me. growing up on euclid avenue, i never could have imagined any of this would be part of my story. even if it is all still a bit awkward for me, i do recognize why moments like these are important. why all of this is absolutely necessary. traditions like this matter. not just for those of us who hold these positions, but for everyone participating in and watching our democracy. you see the people, they make their voices heard with their vote. we hold an inauguration to
ensure a peaceful transition of power. those of us lucky enough to serve work as hard as we can for as long as we can, as long as the people choose to keep us here. once our time is up, we move on. all that remains in this hallowed place our good efforts in these portraits. portraits that connector history to the present day. portraits that hang here as history continues to be made. for me, this day is not just about what has happened, it is about what could happen, because a girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to jackie kennedy and dolly madison. she was never supposed to live in this house, she definitely was not supposed to service first lady. -- serve as first lady.
>> we love you, michelle. [applause] mrs. obama: but i have always wondered, rit is that supposed to come from -- where is that supposed to come from? who determines it? too often in this country, people feel they have to look or act a certain way to fit in. they have to make a lot of money or come from a certain group or class or faith in order to matter. but what we are looking at today , a portrait of a biracial kid with an unusual name and the daughter of a water pump operator and stay-at-home mom. what we are seeing is a reminder there is a place for everyone in this country. as barack said, if the two of us can end up on the walls of the most famous address in the world
, then it is so important for every young kid who is doubting themselves to believe that they can, too. that is what this country is about. it is not about blood or pedigree or wealth. it is a place where everyone should have a fair shot. with you are a kid taking two buses into train just to get to school, or a single mother working two jobs to get food on the table, or an immigrant just arriving, getting your first apartment, forging a future for yourself in a place you dreamed of. that is why this day is not about me or barack. it is not about these beautiful paintings. it is about telling the fuller story, a story that includes every single american in every single corner of the country, so that our kids and grandkids can see something more for themselves.
as much as some folks might want us to believe that story has lost some of its shine, that the -- division in discrimination and everything else might have dimmed its light, i still know deep in my heart that what we share, as my husband continues to say, is so much bigger than what we do not. our democracy is so much stronger than our differences. this little girl from the south side is blessed beyond measure to have felt the truth of that fuller story throughout her entire life, never more so than today. thank you to president biden, to sharon and all of you today for playing a part in this day and all of the days that led to it. and now, it is my privilege to introduce someone who is stepping in shoes and doing it well.
[cheers and applause] dr. biden: thank you, michelle, for a friendship i treasure. 14 years ago -- 14 years ago, michelle, on a cold night in november, a sea of people gathered in grant park to be a part of history. there was laughter and music and dancing, there were tears as friends and strangers alike held each other, overwhelmed with the realization that the hope and the joy had been realized. the crowd roared, realizing anything we could dream was within our reach. but in the heart of that enormous moment was a family. two little girls who would grow
up exploring the secret halls and hideaways of the white house. a mom who would bring her whole heart to serving the american people as first lady, while still guiding and protecting her family with a ferocious devotion. a grandmother who would do absolutely anything for the family she loved, even moved to washington, d.c. [laughter] and a father who showed the world the meaning of yes we can. [applause] dr. biden: from joe and me and our entire family, standing on that stage next to you was like waking up in a new world. a place where, with hard work,
anything was possible. and it wasn't just the bidens. so many of you were also there. you remember how it felt. it was magic, wasn't it? that night, your family connected us all, and our family, the obama-biden team, everyone of you who were fired up and ready to go, together, we changed the course of this country forever. when i look at these portraits, i see family. your family, the family we all buildt and the families -- all built and the families across america together. i see love, joy and fellowship, and we are honored to hang them
today and share them with the world. so thank you for being with us, now, please join us in the state dining room for a reception. thank you for being here. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats while president and dr. biden, mr. and misses obama, and the vice president and second gentleman depart. ♪ announcer: c-span is your unfiltered view of government.
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