Because Obama is only now officially unveiling his White House portrait, two presidents later

Former First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Barack Obama at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery on February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC.Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

  • Barack and Michelle Obama will return to the White House on Wednesday to finally unveil their portraits.

  • The ceremony was delayed for two years after Trump refused to host it and Obama was not interested.

  • Biden and Obama will now reunite to carry on the White House tradition.

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama will make their long-awaited return to the White House on Wednesday to unveil their official portraits as former president and former first lady of the United States. That’s two presidents later than it would have been until the tradition-breaking presidency of Donald Trump.

President Joe Biden, who served as vice president during Obama’s eight-year term, and First Lady Jill Biden will host the ceremony for the Obamas.

At a White House press conference on Tuesday, White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said the Bidens are looking forward to hosting the Obamas.

“President Biden and Dr. Biden are honored to have former President Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama back at the White House for the unveiling of their portraits, which will hang on the White House walls forever as reminders of the power of hope. and change,” said Jean-Pierre.

The portrait ceremony is a long-standing tradition where the succeeding president can honor the commander-in-chief before them, regardless of political party. Usually, the ceremony is hosted by the former president’s immediate predecessor, in Obama’s case, that would be Trump.

However, Trump avoided the ceremony during his presidency, refusing to host the Obamas as a result of their contentious relationship. Obama suggested that he, too, was not interested in a similar ceremony while Trump was president.

Despite their differences, when he left office in 2016, Trump said the note Obama left him in the Oval Office was “beautiful,” according to The Hill.

The risks of the COVID-19 pandemic at the time also played a role in halting the original unveiling that was scheduled for 2020, forcing the Obamas to wait two years for their paintings to hang on the walls in the hallowed halls of the White House. .

Obama was the last president to host this White House tradition in May 2012 when former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush joined him in the East Room to unveil their portraits.

“George, you did your best to make sure the transition to a new administration was as seamless as possible,” Obama said during the ceremony.

When asked during a press conference Tuesday whether Biden would host Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump for their portrait unveiling, Jean-Pierre responded to the White House Historical Association, a private nonprofit educational organization that handles the ceremonies.

Obama’s office and the White House Historical Association did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. Trump’s press team also did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The first portraits sponsored by the White House Historical Association were those of Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson and John F. Kennedy and Jaqueline Kennedy, Stewart McLaurin, president of the organization, told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.

Portrait artists are chosen by presidents and first ladies and can provide input on how they want to be portrayed.

“It really encompasses how the president and first lady see themselves,” McLaurin told the AP.

Visitors in Chicago, Illinois view the official portraits of former President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley and former First Lady Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald at The Art Institute of Chicago on June 18, 2021.

Visitors in Chicago, Illinois view the official portraits of former President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley and former First Lady Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald at The Art Institute of Chicago on June 18, 2021.Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Obamas have another set of portraits housed at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., but they are currently on tour at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts until October 30. These paintings are specific to the Smithsonian and do not look like the ones that will hang in the White House after the ceremony and in the years to come.

This will be the first time the former first lady has visited the White House since 2017 and the second time Obama has visited since he officially left office.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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