Update [12:59 ET]: Full transcript added.
Friday's NBC "Today" devoted an entire segment to photos of First Lady Michelle Obama stopping by a Target store in Alexandria, Virginia, as Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell – on location at the shopping center – gushed: "Check this out. Behind those dark glasses, tucked under that Nike cap, one of the world's most famous women. Yes, that is the First Lady of the United States at Target." [Audio available here]
A sound bite was featured of The Washington Post's Amy Argetsinger touting the "wow factor" of the First Lady going to the department store. Later, O'Donnell declared: "Doing ordinary things in tough economic times can be good for a public image." A sound bite followed from left-wing Huffington Post senior politics editor Howard Fineman: "It's great PR for them, because they can say, 'Look, on this trip and others, we know what's going on outside the gates of the White House.'"
View video after the jump
Teasing O'Donnell's report before the commercial break, co-host Matt Lauer announced: "First Lady Michelle Obama caught taking a trip to Target, which I think is a good thing."
During the segment, O'Donnell touted Michelle Obama's fashion sense: "Mrs. Obama's much-admired taste inspires trends....Her fondness for affordable clothes....And specific brands have been part of her appeal."
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Here is a full transcript of the September 30 segment:
7:47AM ET TEASE:
MATT LAUER: Speaking of shopping, the First Lady Michelle Obama caught taking a trip to Target, which I think is a good thing. We'll have the story behind the photos right after this.
7:50AM ET SEGMENT:
NATALIE MORALES: Back now at 7:50 with the unexpected guest who showed up to shop at a Target store in Virginia. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell is in Alexandria, Virginia, with the details. Kelly, good morning.
KELLY O'DONNELL: Good morning, Natalie. Well, Mrs. Obama has said she likes to do normal things that aren't a part of her White House life, but those trips have been pretty much a secret until now. It turns out the First Lady's to-do list included this Virginia shopping center. Check this out. Behind those dark glasses, tucked under that Nike cap, one of the world's most famous women. Yes, that is the First Lady of the United States at Target.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Michelle Goes Shopping; First Lady Makes Stealth Trip to Target]
AMY ARGETSINGER [THE WASHINGTON POST]: So when you have a photo of the First Lady out of context there's a bit of a wow factor.
KELLY O'DONNELL: Like any mom, except her aide was juggling not one, but two Blackberries. Secret Service agents were blending in, dressed down in casual clothes. Mrs. Obama spent 40 minutes in the store Thursday afternoon, apparently unnoticed by other shoppers. Sources say she was recognized only by the cashier and a photographer from the Associated Press who worked sources to find out she was there.
ARGETSINGER: And really the only way they can go out and shop is if it is incognito, if it's on the fly, if it's with no one paying attention.
O'DONNELL: Aides say Mrs. Obama likes to get out and run errands. On this trip, she bought dog food and treats for Bo. She has waxed nostalgic about going to Target before moving to the White House.
MICHELLE OBAMA: I drove my own car, I took my kids to school every day, I went to Target.
O'DONNELL: It hasn't always been bargain shopping. No disguise when she visited high-end stores in Europe. Mrs. Obama's much-admired taste inspires trends.
OBAMA: This is a Gap dress.
O'DONNELL: Her fondness for affordable clothes.
OBAMA: But he'll be happy to know that, like this is like a $30 dress.
O'DONNELL: And specific brands have been part of her appeal.
OBAMA: This is a J. Crew ensemble, thank you. You can get some good stuff online.
O'DONNELL: Another style icon, Kate Middleton, makes all the tabloids when she pushes her own grocery cart. Beyond a desire to break out of the bubble, doing ordinary things in tough economic times can be good for a public image.
HOWARD FINEMAN [NBC POLITICAL ANALYST]: It's great PR for them, because they can say, 'Look, on this trip and others, we know what's going on outside the gates of the White House.'
O'DONNELL: And other first ladies have had that same desire. We're told that Hillary Clinton was spotted wearing dark glasses taking walks outside the White House. Laura Bush was seen at a Pottery Barn shopping in Georgetown but there were no pictures. And because this wasn't an announced trip they didn't need all of the same security that they would have at a typical event, so she was able to hide behind those glasses. Natalie.
MORALES: Well, she likes a good bargain like all of us.
AL ROKER: Do you know what was in the basket?
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: I hear she bought some toys and food for Bo and some other items and walked around the store for about 30 minutes and really the cashier was the only person to recognize her.
AL ROKER: Mrs. Obama could I see some I.D.?
GUTHRIE: What about that disguise? Got to work on the disguise.