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Michelle Obama makes unannounced visit to Haiti


First lady Michelle Obama, Haiti's President Rene Preval, front second from left, and his wife, Elisabeth Debrosse, front right, speak at the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince, April 13, 2010. (Brennan Linsley/Associated Press)

Updated: 1:49 p.m.
By Robin Givhan
MEXICO CITY -- First lady Michelle Obama arrived in Haiti on Tuesday morning on an unannounced humanitarian mission.

Accompanied by Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, Obama is making a one-day stop in Port-au-Prince en route to Mexico City, where she is scheduled to launch an international campaign encouraging young people to become actively involved in their communities.

The visit to the Haitian capital, which was virtually destroyed by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake in January, will give the first lady an opportunity to extend a caring hand to the Haitian people and to draw attention to their dire circumstances.

The trip is also intended to emphasize "the enduring U.S. commitment to help Haiti recover and rebuild," according to a White House statement. The two high-profile emissaries will also "thank the women and men across the whole of the U.S. government for their extraordinary efforts in Haiti during the past three months. They will also reach out to the UN and international relief communities in recognition of the truly global effort underway to help Haiti."

Obama and Biden toured the Haitian capital by helicopter, getting a bird's-eye view of the battered landscape where more than a million people are homeless -- many living under tarps and in tents. Obama and Biden also met with Haitian President Rene Preval and his wife, Elisabeth Delatour Preval.

Speaking with Elisabeth Preval, Obama described her first impressions: "It's powerful," she said. "The devastation is definitely powerful."

Obama and Biden arrived in Haiti at a time when aid workers and local officials are particularly concerned about how displaced residents will survive as the rainy season begins and hurricanes become more likely.

Obama follows in a long line of previous first ladies -- Eleanor Roosevelt to Laura Bush -- who have served as goodwill ambassadors and voices of solace to those in need.

The stopover in Haiti was organized in conjunction with Obama's Mexico trip -- which is her first time as a solo act on the world stage. The visit to Haiti was not publicly announced until the last minute for security reasons, in particular, crowd control.

For more photos from Obama's trip, click here.

By Robin Givhan  |  April 13, 2010; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

Michelle Obama only went there to gloat at them

Posted by: willtill | April 14, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Really WaPo, When are you going to require that comments be made under real names with a home town attached? I know people can submit fake names, but there must be software available to help with this problem. I don't expect the WaPo to be the NY Times, but you could clear out some of the ridiculous insults that are hurled by anonymous posters. I'm not suggesting that people can't have different opinions, but vile insults are not civil discourse. What I read is mere flame-throwing.

Posted by: patriciacaldwell | April 14, 2010 2:30 AM | Report abuse

Why do Tea Party posters feel the need to identify themselves as such? It is perfectly obvious by terms such as "missy", "POS", "obamaMama", "Odumbo mutts" that they belong to that Party.

Keep it classy, Tea Party hatriots.

Posted by: suenaustin | April 13, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

She is one ugly haint...that is voodoo language.
Taxpayer's money pays for this? POS!

Posted by: crowne2 | April 13, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Please give that "solo act on the world stage" line a rest.

Posted by: wmpowellfan | April 13, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

The Oprah Winfrey of the White House? Those poor people, talking to her as if it would accomplish something. Might give her an idea for a video-op, like her campaign against obesity did. Or, she goes to Haiti and O'Bama goes to Poland? Coincidence? We really need him in Poland.

Leave all that to qualified professionals, get off our computer screens.

Please, no more photos, videos, or quotes.

Leave you taxpayer funded designer clothes as home? How about the hairdresser and the treadmill? Have those photos been airbrushed?

Posted by: ABurke2 | April 13, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Hmm.. my partner went to haiti and.......

ACTUALLY HELPED PEOPLE ON THE GROUND WITH HIS HANDS

Big difference between my partner and michele?

my partner has skills and knowledge that are actually USEFUL in the real world.

Posted by: docwhocuts | April 13, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

larryg62 wrote: I wonder just how much of their own wealth the Odumbo mutts have given to Haiti's recovery.
larry, you are so hateful and so envious of our wonderful President and his wife. just read the article where the president donated millions of dollars to charity. he donated a lot of the 2 million dollars he won for the Nobel Peace prize to Haiti. get a life and a job, O hatefilled one.

Posted by: Mollybeejay | April 13, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

monroe2 put down the koolaid...its morons like you that make legal abortion a must.

Posted by: JWx2 | April 13, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

michelle must be planning to cut off an inch off her hips so the thousand of hungry haitians can eat...such generosity from a Klingon.

Posted by: JWx2 | April 13, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I guarantee you that once the wonderful Michelle leaves Haiti, nothing will have changed one way or the other. The people will be no better off or no worse off. So what's the point? Photo ops? Being a goodwill ambassador is kinda like being a community organizer. Good intentions with no results.

Posted by: theBozyn1 | April 13, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Why not just stay home Michele and just send the money so the poor can eat. Ohh I am sorry,you would rather have a photo op.
Haiti needs money not another photo op.

Posted by: yokohlman | April 13, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

To the tea baggers, if you do not like our country, which includes our government,
leave it. I promise we will not miss you.


Posted by: monroe2 | April 13, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Dear WaPo, if this is what passes your screen for inappropriate comments or materials, I really hate to think what you have to leave out in these comments sections. Honestly. I think it's time to rethink offering people the opportunity to comment on your pages. Maybe it's best to let them rant on their whacko blogs and keep it off the web pages of a newspaper. Seriously. Do you think you would lose many readers if you quit offering a forum for this hate porn?

Posted by: isthisajoke | April 13, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Anaother huge distraction for the rescue workers, all for a photo op.
I wonder just how much of their own wealth the Odumbo mutts have given to Haiti's recovery.
They are very generous with other poeple's money, but I bet they make Lincoln squeal when it comes to actually doing charitable things.
Contemptibe liberal trash.

Posted by: LarryG62 | April 13, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

All you hateful teabaggers can go eat dirt.

Kudos to Michelle Jill taking their time to visit such a sad country as Hati. Im truly proud of her and the President and all they do.

While you bigots and racists roll around in your filth.Best just step aside and keep it moving while the OBAMA's make great history.

Posted by: llewis40 | April 13, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse


If Haiti cannot resurrect itself from its corrupted cesspool existence, nothing will change.

Posted by: demtse | April 13, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

It is wonderful these two classy and intelligent women have finally visited Haiti after three months since the earthquake.

Nevertheless, considering some African-Americans increasingly feel President Obama has forgotten to help the black community since becoming President. Perhaps politically it does not help the Congressional Black Caucus is angry with our President because they also have publicly complained that he is more concerned about politics - perhaps worried Republicans will crucify him if he helped the black community in any monumental way.

There are many ways President Obama can let the black community know he has not forgotten them. One small could have a short Haiti visit along with the black leaders such as Oprah Winfrey, Louis Gates Jr. and Al Sharpton that propelled him to the Presidency. A U.S. Presidential Haiti visit would acknowledge that nation’s pain and struggle whilst honoring and praising these people's critical role in black history; being the very first slaves to achieve their own independence (from France) and subsequently propagating the possibility and reality of emancipation.

President Obama’s response to Haiti has thus far been very admirable. His ever growing financial aid, the deployment of Presidents Clinton and Bush to Haiti and to raise millions for the Red Cross, along with Secretary Clinton's brief airport visit, and now First Lady Obama and Dr. Biden’s trip all concomitantly underscore our President and our country’s dedication to Haiti and its people. All the aforementioned thoughtful and humanitarian actions aside, he needs to fly down there. The visit is overdue. Haiti is a 95-minute flight from Miami. The President can fly down along with members of the black caucus and return to the White House in time for dinner.

What are your thoughts?

Laz Pujol, Flight to Crisis

Posted by: FlightToCrisisLazPujol | April 13, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

It is wonderful these two classy and intelligent women have finally visited Haiti after three months since the earthquake.

Nevertheless, considering some African-Americans increasingly feel President Obama has forgotten to help the black community since becoming President. Perhaps politically it does not help the Congressional Black Caucus is angry with our President because they also have publicly complained that he is more concerned about politics - perhaps worried Republicans will crucify him if he helped the black community in any monumental way.

There are many ways President Obama can let the black community know he has not forgotten them. One small could have a short Haiti visit along with the black leaders such as Oprah Winfrey, Louis Gates Jr. and Al Sharpton that propelled him to the Presidency. A U.S. Presidential Haiti visit would acknowledge that nation’s pain and struggle whilst honoring and praising these people's critical role in black history; being the very first slaves to achieve their own independence (from France) and subsequently propagating the possibility and reality of emancipation.

President Obama’s response to Haiti has thus far been very admirable. His ever growing financial aid, the deployment of Presidents Clinton and Bush to Haiti and to raise millions for the Red Cross, along with Secretary Clinton's brief airport visit, and now First Lady Obama and Dr. Biden’s trip all concomitantly underscore our President and our country’s dedication to Haiti and its people. All the aforementioned thoughtful and humanitarian actions aside, he needs to fly down there. The visit is overdue. Haiti is a 95-minute flight from Miami. The President can fly down along with members of the black caucus and return to the White House in time for dinner.

What are your thoughts?

Laz Pujol, Flight to Crisis

Posted by: FlightToCrisisLazPujol | April 13, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

"I am certain Michelle will be enormous help to the people of Haiti. Lots of photos. How nice.

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | April 13, 2010 2:37 PM"
===========================

Having the First Lady visit a country that was just devastated by one of the worst earthquakes in recent history can be a significant morale boost, as well as a gesture of goodwill from the American people to the people of Haiti.

But don't let that stop you from your snarky Obama bashing. Yes, I've see your comments here before. It takes a real person to put aside their politics and applaud their adversary when they do something good.

Go on, join the rest of the children in this forum.

Posted by: ClandestineBlaze | April 13, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Hey DCWariman, if only you were not the ignorant you are, you would know that your country was the merchants of death in Haiti. You would also know that Haiti is still feeding you from the Tennessee Valley. Under a longstanding embargo like that you racists put this country, you would not survived 200 years. You would kill yourself like scorpion.

Posted by: CorLine25 | April 13, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

We have a wonderful, caring first lady. Right-wingers spew their inhumanity. They can't help it because hatred infects them. They are perpetually fevered. This is who they are.

Posted by: jimsteinberg1 | April 13, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the Republicans and Teabaggers here would prefer somebody like Bush's mother, Barbara, to define the situation in Haiti.
She certainly did a wonderful job of expressing the Conservative Republican opinion of the condition of Hurricane Katrina's victims.
Who could forget her profoundly humane observation that "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here(the Houston Astrodome-apspa1), you know, were underprivileged anyway (as any privileged person could see-apspa1), so this is working very well for them."
What a gal!

Posted by: apspa1 | April 13, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

That is the problem with the GOP followers they read between the lines . always judging the book by it's cover and never reading the lines that are written

Posted by: completeaoutonomy | April 13, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

That is the problem with the GOP followers they read between the lines . always judging the book by it's cover and never reading the lines that are written

Posted by: completeaoutonomy | April 13, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I am glad Michelle didn't invite Laura with her. I guess Michelle doesn't want Laura clean hands on her shirt after shaking hands with poor black people.

Posted by: reefer | April 13, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't be more proud of our First Lady and Mrs. Biden. What sort of person takes this opportunity to take a cheap swipe at a humanitarian gesture of concern and good will? And these people wonder why people call them hate-mongers? Ugly!

Posted by: blosmurph | April 13, 2010 2:47 PM
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Those who listened to the obama's from day one. Those who read between the lines. Those who aren't swayed by the color but by ALL the actions of the person. And from the actions of these two, neither one would pass up an opportunity to travel around (leaving their massive carbon footprints) and arrange for a self promoting photo op wherever they can get away with it.
Yes. The intelligent ones know the occupants of the white house for who they really are.

Posted by: tjmlrc | April 13, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey idiot teabaggers, Michelle Obama is doing nothing more than keeping the world aware of the plight of Haitians. That's what people of her stature do. That's what the Hollywood celebs do. It's part of the process. If Sarah Palin had a brain she might consider a similar gesture but I'm not holding my breath. Anyway she probably never heard of Haiti. Teabaggers don't have a chance because they can't even pick up the simple things. What in their lives may teabaggers such empty headed nut cases?

Posted by: interactingdc | April 13, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

To all you tea party drag Queens its GOP not GOD THERE IS MORE OF US then there are of you and we have the wright to vote come election day it will be very easy to know who voted fore health care and all the money in the world wont hide the rich from that

Posted by: completeaoutonomy | April 13, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

To all you tea party drag Queens its GOP not GOD THERE IS MORE OF US then there are of you and we have the wright to vote come election day it will be very easy to know who voted fore health care and all the money in the world wont hide the rich from that

Posted by: completeaoutonomy | April 13, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't be more proud of our First Lady and Mrs. Biden. What sort of person takes this opportunity to take a cheap swipe at a humanitarian gesture of concern and good will? And these people wonder why people call them hate-mongers? Ugly!

Posted by: blosmurph | April 13, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I am certain Michelle will be enormous help to the people of Haiti. Lots of photos. How nice.

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | April 13, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

And by the way otisplumber, itiot! That is First Lady Obama to you....not missy. You racist a-hole!

Posted by: ivyleague | April 13, 2010 12:56 PM
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I've heard obamama speak and I tend to think of her as the racist a-hole. Missy is too nice of a word.
The greats of any nation, race or creed earn their respect. They don't expect it to be handed to them.

Posted by: tjmlrc | April 13, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

This visit is definitely a goodwill gesture, and will serve to educate these women as to the obstacles and hurdles which must be overcome, both economic and cultural, along the way toward a more stable, more civil, more prosperous society. I hope that these two will take the time to educate themselves as to the underlying causes for the gross mismanagement of this country. Why is there no outpouring of support for other areas recently hit by comparable disasters like Chile and Turkey? Yes, Haiti is much closer to the US and the two other countries mentioned are more stable, more prosperous and therefore better able to marshal domestic resources. But there has been a deafening silence with regard to the systemic malaise practiced in this island nation for years. Let us extend the hand of friendship and assistance, but please let us temper it with a firm expectation that Haiti abandon its sorry past for a brighter future where justice and freedom prevail over nepotism, despotism, corruption, and inequality.

Posted by: DCwaryman | April 13, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Mrs. Obama is not fooling around in the garden. As a gardener I can testify that what she is doing is very practical. The food produced in that garden will be eaten.
I also know that the sheer weight of the logistics of the mission in Haiti is overwhelming. There is just so much to be done.
The first priorities of course are shelter and food and water.
I would think they could also use bedding, toiletries, towels, toilet paper, things we use everyday without thinking about it.

Posted by: leslieswearingen | April 13, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Maybe all the unemployed teabaggers here making nasty comments about Michelle Obama should spend more energy on finding positive ways to contribute to society.

Posted by: marSF | April 13, 2010 1:20 PM
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
As a tea party member, I am proud to say that I have donated money that I WORKED for. Something obamamama can't say. She doesn't earn it. She only spends our tax money. The donation the obamas made to Haiti came from enearned pulitzer money.
In fact I suspect the most donations came from no good, tea bagging, rightwing nuts.
The left is too busy getting handouts to share.
That's our contribution to society you vitriolic ...........................

Posted by: tjmlrc | April 13, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

RepealObamacareNow
otisplumber

If this is all you have to contribute, bashing the first lady of the united states as you contribution to your political party you need to really get a life. Losers like you are the real POS. At least she is not on a web blog bashing you for being a loser plumber.

Posted by: ged0386 | April 13, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse


We do not want any more Haitians coming to the United States. Period.

Posted by: screwjob11 | April 13, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

To those criticizing the humanitarian efforts discussed in this article, may the bluebird of negativity send a 9.0 quake to your house and subject you to similar dire conditions. Then fend for yourself and see how you like it. What a bunch of ignorant, spiteful dregs of society.

Posted by: DrFish | April 13, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

More useful than fooling around in that damn garden.

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | April 13, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to all those who, like me, are supportive of this mission by these two wonderful women. On the other hand, one seems never to be able to avoid the unfortunate and demeaning thought processes that are in our midst.

Posted by: janetcarmich | April 13, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Maybe all the unemployed teabaggers here making nasty comments about Michelle Obama should spend more energy on finding positive ways to contribute to society.

Posted by: marSF | April 13, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

When you have a really really well-known, practically a house-hold name like Obama, it might be a good idea to refer to his wife as "Mrs" so your readers don't have to question themselves each paragraph.

Posted by: HookedOnThePost | April 13, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Just a few examples of what the two most recent former First Ladies did while their husband's were in office - both parties for balance:

http://www.usaid.gov/press/releases/2006/pr060608.html

http://www.america.gov/st/texttrans-english/2008/August/20080808172737xjsnommis0.9895594.html

http://www.usasurvival.org/laurabush.shtml

And a sample of Hillary Clinton's:
In the White House

As the wife of the president of the United States Clinton remained an advocate for many of the programs and issues to which she earlier devoted her time and professional expertise. Her stated goal of "making a difference" in the world led her to press for reforms in many aspects of the American system, including health care and child welfare. Hers is said to be "the most purely voiced expression of the collective spirit of the Clinton administration, a spirit that is notable … for the long reach of its reformist ambitions …." (The New York Times, May 23, 1993). She provided leadership in a number of areas, with the most notable appointment in the first year of the Clinton administration being head of the Task Force on National Health Care, with responsibility for preparing legislation, lobbying proposals before Congress, and marshaling strategy for passage of a comprehensive reform package.

Her White House agenda beyond health care reform included promoting diversity in personnel appointments - an effort she began with her role in the transition group - and pushing for children's issues. With an office in the White House's west wing, close to the center of power, Clinton was expected to remold the role of First Lady for the 21st century.

Clinton has remained an active and vital figure in the White House throughout her husband's presidency. In August of 1995, Hillary Clinton was invited to deliver the keynote address at the United Nations International Conference on Women near Beijing, China. Early in 1996 Clinton and her daughter Chelsea made a goodwill trip to South Asia, addressing women's issues in Pakistan and India.

Posted by: NCIndependent | April 13, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Michelle is looking for a voodoo advisor to help her husband cope with the woo-woo Republicans in Congress.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | April 13, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

cbl55 wrote:
Perhaps her presence can help reduce this danger...
--------------------------------------------------
I think you're confused; isn't it Barry who's billed as the Messiah? A few hours preening before the cameras will not produce one house, one gallon of potable water, nor one extra meal. It's another typical Obama cheap (except the taxpayer expense) photo-op stunt. Maybe she should stay a while and actually contribute some physical labor to help remedy the situation.

Posted by: jpost1 | April 13, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

She is just scouting out future retirement locations and a site for the presidential library. Hey it is great to have the taxpayer pick up the cost of child care but then the grandmother is living in the WH free of charge. Maybe that illegal aunt could have gone along.

Posted by: KBlit | April 13, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to the First Lady for going on this humanitarian mission, this one to Haiti. Chile, next? For those who want to know about the other First Ladies -- they too went on similar missions around the globe, most recently, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush. Look it up! Each had their own pet projects as Michelle Obama does - hers being obesity. Laura Bush's, literacy and so on. This is NOT unusual so let's not canonize her either - just give credit where it's due.

Posted by: NCIndependent | April 13, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

And by the way otisplumber, itiot! That is First Lady Obama to you....not missy. You racist a-hole!

Posted by: ivyleague | April 13, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Haters keep doing what they do best.

Glad to see the First Lady is spreading goodwill and helping the U.S. image internationally.

Posted by: brian_away | April 13, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

She keeping track of all these taxpayer paid trips? looks like she will be planning a book, maybe call it, me and the Messiah, she should stay at home and take care of the kids.....

Posted by: theidahokid | April 13, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

She keeping track of all these taxpayer paid trips? looks like she will be planning a book, maybe call it, me and the Messiah, she should stay at home and take care of the kids.....

Posted by: theidahokid | April 13, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Some comments here are atrocious both for their ignorance and cruelty.

Thank you First Lady, for continuing to bring our attention to Haiti, especially during the rainy season when we know water-borne illness and disaster are going to take their toll. Perhaps her presence can help reduce this danger and compel responders to re-double their efforts.

I think it's great she's going to Haiti.

Posted by: cbl55 | April 13, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

otisplumber,

Are you a moron ? Tell me the last time any of the Bushies "ladies" doing anything humanitarian mission ?

Posted by: reefer | April 13, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I think it is wonderful that Michelle Obama and Jill Biden are going to Haiti and also Mexico. They will make wonderful ambassadors. Women's voices and caring are most important, especially in situations where women and children are the most who have been hurt.

Posted by: ccforjuliet | April 13, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it wonderful that missy is acting as such a humanitarian. Why didn't she wait until the RAINEY SEASON WAS IN FULL SWING. What a phony POS, she is as bad as barry.

Posted by: otisplumber | April 13, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it wonderful that missy is acting as such a humanitarian. Why didn't she wait until the RAINEY SEASON WAS IN FULL SWING. What a phony POS, she is as bad as barry.

Posted by: otisplumber | April 13, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

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