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First Lady Plans Series of Visits to Federal Offices

By Ed O'Keefe

First Lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, left, during visit to the Education Department in Washington, D.C. on Monday. (Photo by AP)

First Lady Michelle Obama's visit to the Department of Education today is the first of several visits she plans to make to federal government offices across Washington in the coming weeks.

"I'm going to spend the next several weeks or months, however long it takes, going from agency to agency, just to say hello, to learn, to listen, to take information back where possible," the first lady said earlier today during an appearance with Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "But truthfully, my task here is to say thank you and roll up your sleeves, because we have a lot of work to do."

The visits -- part "rally the troops" and part "listening tour," will help the first lady develop her platform and priorities and learn more about her new hometown, according to a White House aide. Today's visit had more to do with scheduling and does not signal that education is her top issue of concern. The aide emphasized that her primary focus remains the well-being and adjustment of her daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.

"She wants to make sure that people know that she’s here as the representative of her husband, as an advocate, as she’s putting her platform together, but also to get to know the folks who are working at agencies and thank them for their hard work," this aide said.

Mrs. Obama's office has "cast a wide net," letting agencies and departments know that she is interested in a visit.

While today's event was her first public appearance since Inauguration Day, the first lady first ventured beyond the White House grounds last week for a private lunch at Georgia Brown's restaurant with Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, his wife Michelle Fenty and Dr. Jill Biden.

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 2, 2009; 5:00 PM ET
Categories:  Administration  
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