Obama a fashion icon? Hardly, say his daughters

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To the casual eye Barack Obama may look like one of the most polished political operators in a generation – but that's not what his children think. Malia, aged 10, and Sasha, seven, have cut loose on what they think of their dad's dress sense.

In an interview with entertainment channel Access Hollywood, the daughters of the Democratic presidential candidate laugh at the idea that their father has become a fashion pin-up, pointing to his 10-year old trousers, his worn-out shoes and "that belt".

Sitting on the ground with his wife and daughters, Mr Obama tells viewers he is "baffled by this whole thing myself, because I hate to shop". His wife Michelle adds: "I think it's funny he is involved in this fashion icon stuff because those pants he has owned for about 10 years, and that belt is a little worn too, and don't even pan down to the shoes because we talked about getting new shoes."

Malia then relates a recent shopping trip when he bought "three pairs of black pants and the same jacket in green, brown and black".

She has also been advising him on how to deal with her peers. "You really don't shake kids' hands that much... You just wave or say 'hi'."

Mr Obama adds: "She (Malia) basically avoids me embarrassing her by giving me tips. Especially when I am around her friends."

The Illinois senator had previously gone to great lengths to keep their children out of the media spotlight but Access Hollywood caught up with the Obama family while they were in Butte, Montana, last week to celebrate Malia's 10th birthday. The entertainment channel is so pleased with its scoop it has turned it into a mini-series which it is releasing in four segments, the first of which has already turned into a You Tube and cable-channel sensation.

However, Mr Obama yesterday said he regretted the interview, describing the way it flew across cable television as not "healthy" and "something that we'll be avoiding in the future".

"It was an exception, it was Malia's birthday, we were in Montana, everybody was having a good time," Mr Obama told ABC's Good Morning America.

"I think we got carried away a little bit. Generally what makes them so charming is the fact that they're not spending a lot of time worrying about TV cameras or politics and we want to keep it that way."

The interview went ahead after careful negotiations with the Obama campaign. It was designed to bring out the human side of the candidate by showing him being teased about his lack of attention to his clothes by his wife, Michelle, and children.

It also gave cable news "experts" and bloggers an opportunity to comment.

On her blog, and on CNN, Sandra Rose complained that Malia spoke like a 19-year-old would speak and was "too grown".

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