BURBANK, California -- First lady Michelle Obama cajoled TV talk show host Jay Leno into nibbling on apples, sweet potato fries and a pizza made with eggplant, green peppers and zucchini on the “Tonight Show,” breaking his long-held aversion for all-things-healthy in his diet.
Leno once told a magazine he hadn’t eaten a vegetable since 1969, and he insisted he tasted his last apple in 1984. That didn’t dissuade the first lady, who’s promoting her “Let’s Move!” campaign to get kids excited about fitness and healthy eating habits.
Earlier, Obama poked fun at him in a Twitter post, hinting she’d “get Jay to eat some veggies” on the NBC show.
“That does smell very good. I assume this is sausage-pepperoni,” the comedian quipped as he eyed the pizza made with a whole-wheat crust.
She convinced Leno to dip an apple in honey made from beehives in the White House garden: “It will help it go down easier,” she assured him.
“White House honey? That sounds bad,” Leno told her. “You know, with a different president that could mean a whole different thing, ‘a little White House honey.”’
The first lady is on a two-day swing through California where she’ll promote her initiative while attending two events to help Democrats raise money for the upcoming elections.
She told Leno she’s not doing anything special to prepare for what’s expected to be a tough re-election campaign for her husband, President Barack Obama.
“You know, there’s really no way to mentally prepare for it. You take each day as it comes,” she said.
Republican Mitt Romney has been ridiculing the White House and might face the president in November, but the first lady graded the former Massachusetts governor’s singing voice with something like a sly endorsement. Romney surprised supporters in Florida with an on-pitch version of “America the Beautiful” on Monday, and Leno asked the first lady for her opinion.
“It’s beautiful,” she said after a pregnant pause, with a laugh and raised eyebrows. “And it is America’s song, and it’s a song that’s meant to be sung by every American,” the first lady said in a taped appearance for the NBC show.
Leno told her, “That is right, regardless of political affiliation.”
But she swooned over her husband’s singing—Obama took a brief turn as a soul singer earlier this month at a New York fundraiser, crooning a bar from an Al Green classic. She says he does a little Marvin Gaye, too.
“He does have a beautiful voice, and he sings to me all the time,” she told Leno.