Are Michelle Obama And Jill Biden Actually Friends In Real Life?

Political observers have noticed Barack Obama has been campaigning for Joe Biden without his wife. Michelle Obama's absence from the campaign trail has sparked speculation about a rift between the former first lady and the Biden family. According to some, the rumors aren't misguided. Sources told Axios in a June 27 report that Michelle has been at odds with the Bidens over what she saw as unfair treatment of her friend Kathleen Buhle since her bitter divorce from Hunter Biden in 2017.

Michelle denied she has had a falling out with Joe and Jill Biden over Buhle. "She is friends with Kathleen and with the Bidens. Two things can be true," her spokesperson Crystal Carson told the outlet. A White House spokesperson also denied the reports, saying that the relationship between the Obamas and the Bidens goes beyond a simple friendship. "The Biden and Obama families are like family to one other, and whomever made these claims about that relationship isn't familiar with it," Andrew Bates said.

While Axios highlighted her friendship with Hunter's ex as a potential reason for her lack of public support for Joe's reelection bid, the report also noted that Michelle avoids partisan politics as a general rule. Instead, she prefers to focus on nonpartisan efforts, like the voter registration group she launched in 2018, When We All Vote. Whether Michelle took Buhle's side during the divorce is unclear, but it is unlikely it played a role in undoing her years of friendship with Jill. 

Jill Biden attended Michelle Obama's mother's memorial service

When Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, died on May 31, 2024, her friend Jill Biden was there for her. The first lady attended the memorial service for Robinson, as Michelle's spokesperson pointed out to Axios. In a June 24 tweet, the Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet confirmed Jill's presence, noting she flew out even though the service hadn't been on her schedule. Michelle and Jill go way back.

Michelle and Jill's friendship started in August 2008, when Barack Obama announced Joe Biden as his running mate. "It felt pretty automatic," Michelle said in a joint interview with People in December 2016, their last as first and second lady. Jill felt the same way. "It was an instant bond," she gushed. "Just that moment. We just knew we would be friends." When they left the White House in early 2017, the Bidens returned to Delaware while the Obamas remained in Washington, D.C.

But the distance had no impact on their friendship. "We get together, and it's like that friend that you see a couple years later and it's like you never — you know?" Jill said. In May 2019, years after Kathleen Buhle's divorce drama with Hunter Biden, Michelle promoted Jill's book on social media. "Through our work together to honor and support military families, I saw what an inspiration Jill Biden is to those around her," she captioned an Instagram post encouraging her followers to read "Where the Light Enters."

Michelle Obama might become involved in the Biden campaign

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden have demonstrated their affection for each other remained intact. As such, the former first lady's absence from Joe Biden's reelection efforts is likely unrelated to a feud with the Bidens. In fact, Obama is expected to join Jill and Joe on the campaign trail later on, sources told NBC News in March 2024. Her reluctance to become involved is said to stem from her intentions to stay away from politics. The Biden campaign knows that.

And the president reportedly intends to use that to his advantage. He believes that Obama, a popular figure among Americans, can have a bigger impact toward the end of the campaign, when more undecided voters will be paying attention, NBC News reported. While many have pegged Obama as a potential presidential candidate, she has consistently denied she will ever run. "I've never expressed any interest in politics. Ever," she told Oprah Winfrey in "The Light We Carry" in 2023 (via Rolling Stone).

Even though she hasn't been actively campaigning, Obama has made her thoughts on the upcoming election crystal clear. "What's gonna happen in this next election? I am terrified about what could possibly happen," she said on Jay Shetty's "On Purpose" podcast in January 2024. "Because our leaders matter. Who we select, who speaks for us, who holds that bully pulpit." Whether Obama will campaign for Joe remains to be seen, but she clearly cares about the election's outcome.