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Biden invites Barack and Michelle Obama to White House for portrait unveiling

President Joe Biden will host former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama at the White House to unveil their official White House portraits. 

“On September 7, the President and Dr. Biden will host President and Mrs. Obama for the unveiling ceremony for their official White House portraits, and that will be very exciting,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced Thursday. The artists who made the paintings will also be revealed during the ceremony. The unveiling typically occurs in the East Room of the White House. 

Traditionally, the current president has always invited their predecessor to the White House to unveil their official portraits. The September ceremony will also be the first time Michelle Obama has entered the White House since leaving with her husband in 2017. 

The 44th president has been hosted at the White House on one other occasion since Biden entered office, and that was in April 2022 for the 12th anniversary of his health care law. Obama’s portrait will be hung on the main floor of the White House with his other predecessors.

The White House Historical Association facilitates the creation of these portraits. Typically, the president and first lady pick their artist before leaving the White House.  Presidents and first ladies have final approval of the paintings before they are revealed to the public. 

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“It’s a special moment. These are things that become a part of the White House for years and years and years to come,” Steven McLaurin, the president of the White House Historical Association, told CBS News. “This is an old and customary tradition, but it’s important in White House history to maintain this.”

Former President Barack Obama visited the White House in April for a health care event. 

Every president since Jimmy Carter has returned to the White House for their portrait unveiling – except Carter, who asked not to have one, according to the White House Historical Association. 

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Obama hosted his predecessor’s, George W. Bush, unveiling in 2012, Bush invited Clinton in 2004, Clinton invited George H.W. Bush in 1995, and Bush Sr. had Ronald Reagan come in 1989. 

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