In the wide-ranging interview that aired Sunday night, CBS’ Scott Pelley asked the former president about a passage in his new book, “A Promised Land,” that quotes his wife as saying: “The answer is no. I do not want you running for president. God, Barack, when is it going to be enough?”
“We had just two years earlier, I had run for the U.S. Senate ― in an unlikely race,” Obama said. “Two years before that I had run for Congress … In a race I lost.”
“A couple of years before that I had run for the state Senate. We’ve got two young kids. Michelle’s still working, and I ask myself in the book, you know, ’How much of this is just megalomania? How much of this is vanity? How much of this is me trying to prove something to myself?’”
He said his wife eventually reached the conclusion, albeit grudgingly, that she shouldn’t stand in the way of his ambitions.
“The fact that I ended up winning didn’t necessarily alleviate her frustration because the toll it takes on families is real,” he added.
“I think it’s only after you emerge from an all-consuming job that you realize that everything you hold dear is thanks to the one you love,” Pelley noted.
But Obama said even while he was in the job, this had become apparent to him.
“The fact that she put up with it and forgave me was an act of grace that I am grateful for and I’m not sure I deserved it,” he said.
In an interview Sunday morning with CBS’ Gayle King, the former president said he would not be taking on a cabinet role in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration if it was offered, joking that “Michelle would leave me.”
The former first lady has spoken in the past about the challenges their relationship faced due to her husband’s political ambitions.
“When you get married and have kids, your whole plan, once again, gets upended,” she said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2018. “Especially if you get married to somebody who has a career that swallows up everything, which is what politics is.”