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First lady fixes on must-dos prior to election run

By Nancy Benac

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Feb. 11 2012 11:21 a.m. MST

First lady Michelle Obama hugs a woman in the audience at a gathering of people of diverse faiths at Northland, A Church Distributed, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012, in Longwood, Fla. The first lady spoke about the work of faith and community organizations to support healthy lifestyles during her three day national tour celebrating the second anniversary of Let's Move.

Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press

LONGWOOD, Fla. — Gearing up for a tough political season ahead, Michelle Obama said Saturday she's trying to get as much done as possible before the general election campaign starts to drown out everything else.

"It's sort of like working before vacation — only it's not a vacation," she said in an interview with a handful of reporters. "It's that same notion of 'How much time do we have? What do I have to do?'"

The first lady said she's also reminding herself not to take things personally once the rough-and-tumble of the campaign gets going.

"Things are different in a campaign environment," she said. "It's a competition. Things are said. You just take it one day at a time."

The first lady said she'll devote three days a week to politics once the campaign is in full swing, but she wants to continue working on her signature issues of fighting childhood obesity and supporting military families.

She added that she'll draw a clear line between the campaign and those issues, to keep them from getting bogged down in politics and hurting the credibility of her efforts.

The first lady spoke with reporters on the final day of a three-day national tour marking the second anniversary of her "Let's Move" campaign against childhood obesity. She visited Iowa, Arkansas and Texas before spending the last day in Florida.

Mrs. Obama also talked about the importance of finding time to escape the White House bubble and have more normal interactions with friends and family — those who know her simply as "Meesh" — shorthand for Michelle.

That includes unannounced shopping trips, outings with friends and even visiting her brother's house in Oregon with her daughters, she said.

At times like that, she says, "I'm not the first lady."

"We sat on the porch and we ate barbeque," she recalled. "It was important for me to go there."

Mrs. Obama began her day at Northland Church outside Orlando, where she highlighted the work of churches and faith leaders in helping families to adopt healthier habits. Her final stop was to be a high-energy event at Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

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