In late January 2024, users on Facebook, TikTok, Truth Social and X all shared a rumor that made quite the claim about the upcoming U.S. presidential election in November. We also received reader mail about the subject.
According to the rumor, U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, were "secretly plotting" for U.S. President Joe Biden to step down in May, prompting the beginning of Michelle Obama's run for the White House. This was the latest iteration of a long-running rumor that the former first lady might one day begin a campaign for public office.
For example, on Jan. 27, TikTok user @wffnews packaged the gist of the rumor into a brief video. That video ended up receiving nearly 6 million views in just four days:
In this story, Snopes lays out what is known about the origins of the newest iteration of the rumor. As of Feb. 1, there was insufficient evidence that would either lend credibility to or disprove the claim that Michelle Obama was planning to make a run for the White House.
Origins of the Rumor
On Jan. 30, RadarOnline.com published an article with the headline, "Michelle and Barack Obama Secretly Plotting Her Presidential Run to Force Joe Biden Out of Race, Shocking Report Claims." The report from the gossip tabloid read, in part:
The 60-year-old former First Lady and Barack Obama have reportedly been whispering to potential donors, and Democratic strategists are said to be eager to make it happen.
As concerns about Biden's cognitive health grow ahead of his potential re-election, where he's likely to face off with energetic Donald Trump, White House sources say Michelle's takeover is being carefully crafted.
Biden will likely announce that he's not running in May, citing health concerns, paving the way for Michelle to be nominated as a candidate by August, when the Democratic Convention rolls around, according to a bombshell report by the New York Post.
As its source, RadarOnline.com cited reporting from a New York Post opinion article. The headline of the Post's article specifically used the word "may," as in, "Michelle Obama may already be working on a 2024 White House bid." The body of the story also used the word "reportedly" and cited a source who purportedly informed the Post of the news from other "credible sources":
In this sicko political environment, semi-VIPs itch to get you to write what they want.
Then, for their own political purpose, tell you they “doubt” what you wrote.
These professional doubters have their political motives.
However, some info now comes from — I’m told — “credible sources few have access to and usually not meant for the noses of the media.”
Reportedly, and I’m being told, “Obama has polled donors.”
His plan? Around May, Biden announces he’s not running (even mentally). The so-called plot is that come the August convention, Michelle gets nominated.
In other words, RadarOnline.com published an article about the rumor and mainly cited an opinion piece from the Post. In the Post's article, the author cited an unnamed source. That unnamed source purportedly claimed to have inside information from other sources.
On Jan. 31, Snopes contacted the Post with questions. We also emailed the Obamas and the White House on the slim chance they might respond to discuss the rumor. We received no responses by morning of the following day. We will update this story if we receive pertinent responses to our correspondence.
2020 FEC Filing Rumor
Near the end of the TikTok video from @wffnews, the person speaking said, "It is important to note that, in 2020, there was an FEC filing – that's with the Federal Election Committee – to draft Michelle Obama to run for office. So the question is, are these just rumors or is something going on?"
However, the truth of the rumor about the FEC filings was revealed in an article from ABC News that was published on May 4, 2020. The genuine filings were made by a group known as "The Committee to Draft Michelle Obama." The committee was simply a grassroots effort to attempt to get Michelle Obama to be Biden's vice-presidential pick in 2020 and was "not affiliated with Obama or Biden's campaign," the reporting said. In fact, draftmichelle.org – the website domain that was once used by the committee in 2020 – has since been abandoned and was not recently renewed. It was available for purchase as of Feb. 1, 2024.
Michelle Obama on Running for President
In April 2023, Rolling Stone provided extensive coverage of the release of the Netflix special, "The Light We Carry: Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey." During the sit-down interview, the former first lady told Winfrey in no uncertain terms about politics, "It is not in my soul." Rolling Stone published part of her answer as follows:
"I've never expressed any interest in politics. Ever," admits Michelle. "I mean, I agreed to support my husband. He wanted to do it, and he was great at it. But at no point have I ever said, 'I think I want to run.' Ever. So, I'm just wondering: Does what I want have anything to do with anything? Does who I choose to be have anything to do with it?"
She continues: "Politics is hard. And the people who get into it — it's just like marriage, it's just like kids — you've got to want it. It's got to be in your soul, because it is so important. It is not in my soul. Service is in my soul. Helping people is in my soul. Working with kids? I will spend my lifetime trying to make kids feel seen and find their light. That I will do. I don't have to hold office to do that. In fact, I think I'm actually more effective outside of politics, because sadly, politics has become so divided. The minute you declare a party, you've alienated the other half of the country. Now, maybe some people who don't agree with me politically can still gain some tools that can help them. Maybe I can help a kid who's a Republican, because maybe they'll listen to me."
Obama also later said on a January 2024 episode of author Jay Shetty's "On Purpose" podcast that she was "terrified" of the potential outcome of the looming election, in which all signs pointed to the likelihood of a rematch from the 2020 election, once again pitting Biden against Republican challenger former President Donald Trump.