At 1.47 pm President Joe Biden, the First Lady Jill Biden, President Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama entered the East Room to loud and rapturous cheers and applause. Smiling, President Obama stopped to shake some hands before taking his seat on the front row.

At 1.55 pm President Biden was greeted with cheers and clapping. “Barack and Michelle, welcome home,” Biden warmly welcomed the Obamas.

Biden shared that nothing could have prepared him better for being president than serving under Barack Obama for eight years.

The President said Obama helped us find an “an amazing grace, even in darkness.” He added, “We counted on him. And I still do.”

Portrait of former first lady Michelle Obama by Sharon Sprung

Biden described Obama as one of the most consequential presidents in American history and Michelle Obama as one of the most consequential First Ladies.


At 2.04pm President Obama and Michelle Obama simultaneously unveiled their respective portraits. There were high pitched “oooooohs! and fierce applause from the audience.

“It is great to be back,” said Obama.

He described the President as “a true partner and true friend.” There was a standing ovation for Biden.

Portrait of former President Barack Obama by Robert McCurdy

“I want to thank Sharon Sprung for capturing everything I love about Michelle. Her grace. Her intelligence. And the fact that she’s fine,” said Obama to the laughter and clapping from the audience.

President Obama noted that his own portrait doesn’t hide his grey hair or make his ears smaller and that the artist “talked me out of wearing a tan suits”

Former First Lady Michelle Obama was greeted with huge cheers and applause. She thanked her husband for his “spicy” remarks.

“Believe it or not, it is still a bit odd for me to stand in this historic space… Even if it’s a bit awkward for me, I do realize why moments like this are important,” said Michelle Obama.

“We love you, Michelle!”, someone shouted during her remarks. There was applause and President Obama seemed moved. Michelle Obama also became emotional as she talked about “a story that includes every American.”

She then introduced the First Lady Jill Biden, who joked that everyone had stood to applaud except Biden. He duly stood and applauded, then sat down and rubbed one of his eyes.

“When I look at these portraits, I see family,” said Jill Biden

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