Oprah: How important a role does your family play?
Barack: They're everything.
Oprah: When I heard you deliver your primary speech, I actually believed you when you thanked your wife. You're right: She has held this family together.
Barack: I love this woman. We've had our rough patches…
Michelle: There were many…
Barack: The best quote so far in the campaign was in The New Yorker. The interviewer sat down with Michelle and said, "This must really be tough." She said, "This is crazy. He's never home, the schedule's terrible, and I'm raising two kids and working." Then Michelle pauses and says, "That's why he's such a grateful man."
Oprah: That's great.
Barack: The hardest thing about the work I do is the strain it puts on Michelle, and not being around enough for the kids. Then there are the financial worries after you've come out of Harvard Law School…
Michelle: It's Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia combined.
Barack: So there's a lot that my family has had to sacrifice.
Oprah: What's a day like for you? How often are you away from home?
Barack: I've had 10 days off in the last three years, and that includes weekends. My workdays are often 16 hours.
Michelle: And more people are making requests for his time.
Oprah: How do you decide what to do?
Barack: That has gotten harder. If you don't show up, people feel hurt. You get this beautiful letter from a school in South Carolina, and the teacher writes, "These kids would be so inspired if you came."
Oprah: My letters start out with, "Dear Oprah, we know you love children…"
Barack: Right now I still have an excuse: I haven't been elected yet. After the election, handling the requests will require discipline. That's how Michelle has been a rock for me. She supports me by being a corrective. My instinct is to do everything. I don't want to disappoint anyone. Michelle is a little more sensible.
Oprah: Somebody has to say "Enough!"
Michelle: The first people we don't want to disappoint are our kids. Barack is a great father. Even when he's away, he calls every night. People will suck you dry, and they don't think about the fact that you have two kids. He has to go to the kids' ballet events and their parent-teacher conferences. And he enjoys that.