Nightly News   |  January 11, 2012

Michelle Obama fights back

FLOTUS rejects book's claim that she clashed with her husband's aides. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> a new book you may have heard about written by a reporter from the "new york times" about life in the obama white house , paints what is at times a not-so-flattering picture of first lady michelle obama . today she chose to fight back. our report tonight from nbc's andrea mitchell .

>> reporter: michelle obama in virginia today promoting one of her top priorities, medical care for military families.

>> please know that america will be there for you and your families.

>> reporter: a popular cause like her fight against childhood obesity. that and her signature style defined her role as first lady. not the meddling spouse portrayed in the controversial new book "the obamas." today mrs. obama challenged that portrait, as she did with gayle king on cbs.

>> i guess it's more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation here, a strong woman , but you know, that's been an image people tried to paint of me since the day barack announced, that i'm some angry black woman .

>> reporter: white house officials say it is a caricature that first emerged in the 2008 campaign.

>> for the first time in my adult lifetime, i'm really proud of my country.

>> reporter: opponents seized on that comment to paint mrs. obama as some kind of radical. the new book by author jodi kantor says the first lady felt pressured to look perfect because everyone was waiting for a black woman to make a mistake. mrs. obama also rejects the book's claim she clashed with her husband's aides, former chief of staff rahm emanuel and former press secretary robert gibbs .

>> i can count the number of times i go over to the west wing , period.

>> reporter: the book suggests mrs. obama did not want to be like hillary clinton , who had her own office in the west wing . according to the book, mrs. obama told an aide, i don't want to be hillary clinton . i can't be that person. white house offices acknowledge moments of tension between the first lady and the president's staff, but they say far less than in past administrations. they say the book doesn't fully convey the personal bond between the obamas. andrea mitchell , nbc news, manchester, new hampshire.