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Did Michelle Obama let slip the open secret about her husband's 2012 intentions?

November 9, 2010 |  9:12 am

Democrat US president Barack Obama greets an arriving guest at the state dinner in his honor in New Delhi 11-8-10

At last word, even before the destruction of dozens of party candidates in last week's midterm elections, America's Democrats were divided over whether their big winner of 2008 should seek a second term in 2012.

The practical assumption is always that an incumbent like Barack Obama will seek a second term, at least until he pulls out, as another Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson, did in 1968 in the face of an  unpopular war and a party rebellion. No incumbent president is likely to pull out until the very last minute because it makes him an immediate lame duck.

After an electoral rejection as large as Nov. 2's, people start talking. Strangely out of the...., as we reported right here, former party Chairman Howard Dean announced last week he was not challenging Obama in 2012, in case you remember Dean's post-caucus loss meltdown in 2004 and were wondering. But what about someone else from the party's left side, like Wisconsin's Russ Feingold or Indiana's more moderate Evan Bayh, both about to become former senators.

A recent Associated Press poll found that 47% of Democrats and 51% of Americans favored a challenge of Obama or his defeat in 2012. And Hillary Clinton was the favored alternative among those.

The good news presumably for Obama is that no clear Republican challenger has emerged from a pack of former governors and other officeholders. The bad news is there is no sign of a strong economic turnaround in the foreseeable future, meaning more baggage for the incumbent to blame on the newly Republican House of Representatives.

However, an interesting little-noticed anecdote came out of the local press coverage of the Obama's visit to India in recent days.

Barkha Dutt is a reporter for NDTV, one of about three dozen all-news networks in India. Dutt was assigned to cover Obama's election night victory rally in Chicago's Grant Park and had an invitation to the exotic state dinner we wrote about here Monday evening.

In her rapid-fire post-dinner report to NDTV viewers in English, Dutt recounted that in the receiving line she had told Obama she had witnessed the Grant Park rally. And that upon overhearing her, Michelle Obama stepped forward and interjected that the reporter should hope the Obamas can repeat that victory.

So, was the first lady perhaps letting the 2012 campaign kitten out of the bag prematurely?

Watch the video here and draw your own conclusion:

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images (Obama greets an arriving guest at the state dinner in New Delhi, 11-8-10).

H/T Ram Ramgopal