“Over the course of their eight years together in office, a close partnership between the two men grew through the highs and lows of the job and life,” Jean-Pierre said during a press conference Tuesday (September 6). “President Biden and Dr. Biden are honored to have former President Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama back to the White House for the unveiling of their portraits, which will hang on the walls of the White House forever as reminders of the power of hope and change.”
The event marks Michelle Obama’s first return to the White House since the end of her husband’s historic presidency in 2017. The former president came back to the White House for the first time earlier this year to celebrate the 12th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff are also set to attend the long decades-long traditional East Room ceremony, which was shunned by former President Donald Trump, as he and Obama reportedly had a strained relationship during his term.
The unveiling, typically held indoors, was also pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Covid impacted us two-and-a-half years ago, and I do think it’s important for these (portraits) to be revealed at a time when the public does have access to the White House and they can be seen,” said Stewart McLaurin, the president of the White House Historical Association.
Regardless of their political party, acting presidents have previously hosted their immediate predecessors for the unveiling of their official portraits, which hang inside the White House for decades.
While in office, Obama hosted an emotional unveiling ceremony for former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush in 2012.
However, there was no official explanation on why Trump declined to hold a ceremony for Obama during his presidency.
When asked Tuesday whether Biden will hold a ceremony for Trump should a portrait of him be done, Jean-Pierre deferred questions to the White House Historical Association.