On Tuesday's "Today" show NBC's Michael Okwu declared hugging is all the rage now that President Obama, AKA "The Hugger-in-Chief," has replaced handshakes with hugs. Al Roker introduced the Okwu story as he pondered: "With the uncertain economy and shrinking 401(k)s we could all use a little hug, even President Obama, "The Hugger-in-Chief." Early in the piece Okwu threw it to NBC News presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin who analyzed: "I would rank him, way at the top, in the pantheon of presidential huggers."
The following are teasers and then the relevant portion of the Okwu story as it was aired on the April 7, "Today" show:
ANN CURRY: Coming up next President Obama has been coined "The Hugger-In-Chief," but should we all embrace the greeting?
AL ROKER: Then a little bit later on, over on his overseas trip the President may have been all smiles and handshakes but he's beginning to be known as the "Hugger-in-Chief," in fact. We're gonna take a look at that and see what it all means. Ah, nothing, nothing wrong with a nice hug.
ROKER: With the uncertain economy and shrinking 401(k)s we could all use a little hug, even President Obama, "The Hugger-in-Chief." From the White House to the workplace handshakes are out, hugs are in. NBC's Michael Okwu explains.
SERGEANT AT ARMS: The President of the United States!
MICHAEL OKWU: Whether it's navigating Capitol Hill, presenting his Cabinet or connecting with regular Americans you get the sense with President Obama, that right along with those coat sleeves in the Oval Office, the stiff handshake has been vetoed. The hug is in.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Maybe it is a good thing!
OKWU: So much so, Time magazine is hailing him as the "Hugger-in-Chief."
[On screen headline: "Hugger-In-Chief, Is The Hug The New Handshake?"]
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, NBC NEWS HISTORIAN: I would rank him, way at the top, in the pantheon of presidential huggers.
OKWU: Of course Clinton could embrace, well, a village, but that was with an inspired handshake. LBJ got close, but hardly cuddly. The bear in Obama might be explained by the fact that he's from a less formal generation, or it just might be a sign of the times.
GOODWIN: People feel that need to be reached out to, especially when times are tough.