Michelle Obama over a red background with the word vote embedded
Audrey Bowler / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

In 2023, right-wing media kept bizarrely claiming that a fix was in to make Michelle Obama the Democratic presidential candidate

Right-wing media figures repeatedly claimed in 2023 that the Democrats were planning to get former first lady Michelle Obama on the 2024 Democratic presidential nominee ticket, despite her repeated statements that she doesn’t want to go into politics. 

Right-wing media figures alternately suggested that Obama will be brought in to replace either President Joe Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris, that Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will run on a joint ticket, and that if she wins, former President Barack Obama will be “a de facto president.”

  • Even though Michelle Obama has repeatedly said otherwise, right-wing media figures have been claiming she will run for president since at least 2019

    • Obama has repeatedly said she is not interested in getting into politics, saying, “I’ve never expressed any interest in politics. Ever.” Obama said in 2018, “I’ve never had the passion for politics. I just happened to be married to somebody who has the passion for politics, and he drug me kicking and screaming into the arena.” In 2023, she told Oprah, “Politics is hard. And the people who get into it … 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.” [The Hollywood Reporter, 4/6/18; Rolling Stone, 4/25/23]
    • In 2019, former Fox host Tucker Carlson claimed that viewers should not “bet against” Obama being the Democratic nominee for the 2020 election. Carlson said that though Obama has said she has no interest in being president, “there are signs that that’s not true.” Carlson later claimed, “The Democratic Party is ripping itself apart over race and gender and class. Michelle Obama, let’s be honest, is one of the only people who could unite the party’s warring factions.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 11/19/19]
    • In 2020, National Review debated whether Biden would pick Obama for his vice president. Though the piece noted that Obama has said she has no interest in entering politics, it still went on to speculate that a vice presidential nomination could work for Obama, claiming, “She’d have to campaign for only 15 weeks — versus the two years that a presidential run takes. And she could probably avoid fundraising, if she insisted on it.” [National Review, 3/8/20
  • In 2023, right-wing media picked up the trend again, claiming the Democrats are planning to get Michelle Obama on the presidential ticket

    • Then-Fox host Tucker Carlson revisited the idea in January that a scheme was underway to sabotage Joe Biden in 2024 “to make way for Michelle.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 1/13/23]
    • BlazeTV host Steve Deace asked: “Do you think all the pervasive t----- madness is really just a psyop to grease the skids for Michelle Obama running for president?” Then in September, while discussing a ridiculous allegation by a man who claimed he had had crack-fueled sex with a young Barack Obama, Deace also claimed that this is “going to do nothing but generate sympathy for Michelle Obama,” saying the plan is “first, let's generate sympathy for Michelle Obama, and now let's give the Democrats the off ramp to dump Joe Biden, the dementia patient.” [BlazeTV, The Steve Deace Show, 6/23/23, 9/13/23; Media Matters, 8/31/23]
    • The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens claimed that the media are turning on Biden and noted that Carlson did a segment saying they “may be priming Michelle Obama for a run.” Owens added, “By the way, that’s a serious run.” [The Daily Wire, Daily Wire Backstage: State of the Union, 2/6/23]
    • Right-wing host Benny Johnson claimed Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be on a “unity ticket” for the 2024 presidential election. In a podcast partly titled “WAR! Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton Ready To Take Out Biden, Kamala,” Johnson claimed in February that Democrats are “coalescing around” Obama and Clinton “as the first all female presidential ticket.” He later claimed that “the long knives [are] out for Biden and Kamala” and that “they are going to humiliate them on TV,” adding that if Clinton and Obama “took over,” it would be “a very, very dangerous world.” [The Benny Show, 2/16/23, 2/16/23]
    • Fox News host Rachel Campos-Duffy also repeatedly pushed this theory on Fox’s airwaves, claiming that Biden “is a placeholder” and Obama “is waiting in the wings.” Campos-Duffy claimed the “real power behind the throne in this administration are the Obamas” and that Obama “is out there. She’s on stage with Bruce Springsteen. She’s doing events with Oprah. … And she won’t stop talking about menopause and her struggles with marriage. All of this points to suburban white women.” A couple of days later, she again mentioned Obama as “a replacement,” saying Biden “is obviously deteriorating before our eyes.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 5/5/23; Fox News, Outnumbered, 5/9/23]
    • Newsmax's Greg Kelly also jumped on the rumor bandwagon, claiming he is “convinced” Obama is running for president and “could raise about $100 million in about a day.” In May, after Biden had announced his reelection campaign, Kelly still claimed that Biden isn’t running, adding, “It’s actually going to be Michelle Obama. I am convinced. Very smart people I know have been looking at this. … She’s going to lose to Trump, but man she could raise about $100 million in about a day.” [Newsmax, Greg Kelly Reports, 5/9/23; The Associated Press, 4/25/23]
    • Trump ally Roger Stone claimed that “Democrats will give Joe Biden the hook and they will nominate Michelle Obama, which would make Barack Obama, should she be elected, a de facto president, as he may be today.” Stone made similar claims in July at a Turning Point Action conference and also posted in September: “Barrack Obama is running the country now and he can run it even more openly once he pushes Joe aside and Michelle Obama becomes the Democratic nominee and the president.” [One America News Network, In Focus with Alison Steinberg, 8/7/23; NBC News, 10/26/23; Twitter/X, 9/2/23]
    • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed on his podcast: “In August of 2024, the Democrat kingmakers jettison Joe Biden and parachute in Michelle Obama. … I view this as a very serious danger." Cruz acknowledged that Obama isn’t “all that eager to run for president,” but went on to claim: “Barack Obama is already running the Biden administration. I think he is already the puppet master behind this White House. … So when I see the media turning on Joe Biden right now, I think the odds of Michelle Obama parachuting in in August of 2024 have risen dramatically and that ought to scare the hell out of anyone who is unhappy about the direction this country is going.” Cruz later made multiple Fox News appearances pushing the idea, saying that “the odds are very significant” that Democrats will “jettison Joe Biden … and they will parachute in instead Michelle Obama” at the 2024 Democratic National Convention. [YouTube, Verdict with Ted Cruz, 9/18/23; Fox News, Hannity, 9/25/23; Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/6/23]
    • Fox & Friends Weekend picked up on Cruz’s podcast comments, with Campos-Duffy claiming when she repeatedly said the same, people called her “crazy.” She added, “The Democratic convention is in Chicago, and who knows — could have been always a backup plan for them, you know, because obviously Joe Biden’s mental capacity has been in question since he ran the last time.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 9/24/23]
    • Infowars’ Alex Jones said by planning to replace Biden with Obama, Democrats “are not just fixing elections against Republicans — they are fixing their own party’s elections in front of the world, creating a uni-party system.” Jones also said Cruz and “a bunch of other leading Republicans” have made the Obama prediction and called this supposed plan a “totalitarian takeover” by the Democratic Party. [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 9/26/23]
    • Later in the same episode of The Alex Jones Show, Stone claimed that Biden will announce he’s not running, as “the drumbeat is now overwhelming in his own party” that he should stand down. Stone also claimed that California Gov. Gavin Newsom “will be allowed to purchase the vice presidential nomination by putting up hundreds of millions of dollars to fuel the ticket.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 9/26/23]
    • Fox Business host Larry Kudlow also claimed he’s “hearing so much talk about Michelle Obama” replacing Biden as the nominee and that “the Obama machinery is already gearing up for it.” Kudlow added, “I'm not predicting; I'm just saying. I'm just hearing this from everywhere.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 9/26/23]
    • OutKick host Clay Travis claimed on two Fox’s prime-time shows that Obama “is going to ride to Democrat rescue” and will be “the savior” who will “extend the Biden administration for a fourth term in the White House.” Travis also said that “the fix is going to be in” at the Democratic convention, where the Democrats will remove Biden to nominate Obama, adding, “That way, they get the Black woman in and they get Kamala Harris out. It’s not racist; it’s not sexist. Remember, Barack Obama hasn't left D.C. That’s never happened.” [Fox News, Hannity, 11/27/23; Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 11/16/23]