AP Hypes the 'Fabulously Fit New First Couple'

Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz nominated the AP for an "Obama Adulation Watch" for this gooey piece by Deanna Bellandi:

CHICAGO -- Many women recoil at the thought of baring their arms in sleeveless dresses or blouses, but not Michelle Obama -- half of the fabulously fit new first couple.

Both President-elect Barack Obama and the future first lady have exercise routines that would put most people to shame. Michelle Obama used to join a friend for 4:30 a.m. workouts, and Barack Obama usually starts his day in the gym.

Michelle Obama has hosted "The View," been interviewed on "60 Minutes," graced the cover of Newsweek and hit the campaign trail, all with her buff arms bared.

"One of the things I always talk about is got to exercise," the 44-year-old mother of two told an overwhelmingly female crowd at a campaign event last year in Chicago.

That's sure to continue when the Obamas and their girls -- 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha -- move into the White House, which has plenty of places for them to stay active.

Bellandi must handle all the light stories, since she recently talked up the Obamas' sophisticated taste in food (but not too sophisticated, unless it whiffs of elitism):

President-elect Barack Obama loves chili and shuns beets.

Obama's aversion to beets aside - "I always avoid eating them," he says - the new first family are foodies with a wide-ranging palate. They have hankerings for Mexican food, enjoy hand-crafted pastas and their kids dig fried chicken and macaroni and cheese.

"They are totally adventurous people ... they enjoy food," said chef Rick Bayless of Topolobampo, an upscale contemporary Mexican restaurant in downtown Chicago that's a favorite of the Obamas.

Soon, the White House staff will be catering to the family's food needs, and what the Obamas eat in their hometown of Chicago offers a hint at what might be served at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. At the White House now, Tex-Mex and barbecue are among the favorites of President George W. Bush.

At Bayless' restaurant, Obama and his wife Michelle usually begin their meals with tortilla soup and guacamole as starters, followed by something from a changing seasonal menu to reflect the freshest fare.

The Obamas aren't teetotalers, partaking of the restaurant's margaritas and wine.

"They never turn a nose up at anything we suggest to them," said Bayless, whose Frontera Grill was named outstanding restaurant by the James Beard Foundation last year.

Obama's familiarity with finer foods got him in a bit of trouble during the presidential campaign. He was talking to Iowa farmers to show he understood their plight when he mentioned the high cost of a boutique salad green.

"Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?" Obama said, referring to a high-end food chain loaded with organic products. "I mean, they're charging a lot of money for this stuff."

Critics latched on to the comment, painting him as elitist.

But it's not just fancy dining the Obamas like. They enjoy takeout from a neighborhood pizza joint and an island-inspired restaurant not far from their home where Michelle Obama fancies the grilled tilapia.

"She enjoys her food but tries to eat healthy as well," said close family friend Sandy Matthews.

Associated Press Michelle Obama
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