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Ex-Education Minister shares ‘toe-curlingly embarrassing’ Barack Obama story

11 Aug 2021 4 minute read
Barack Obama. Picture by GPA Photo Archive (CC BY-NC 2.0). Kirsty Wlliams. Photo by the Welsh Government.

A former Education Minister has shared the “toe-curlingly embarrassing” story of when she met Barack Obama.

Kirsty Williams, who stood down as the Liberal Democrat MS for Brecon and Radnorshire at the last Senedd election, said she was “completely star struck” when she was introduced to the 44th President of the United States.

The ex-Welsh Lib Dem leader, who also met Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, recounted the story on Walescast with BBC Wales Politics Editor Felicity Evans and Political Correspondent James Williams.

She told the BBC podcast: “I was just so embarrassed. I embarrassed myself massively in front of all three of them because I was completely star struck.

“Some people get star struck about pop stars and movie actors – not me – American presidents and I was just toe-curlingly embarrassing.”

Felicity Evans said: “You were fan-girling?”

Williams replied: “Oh terrible. Barack Obama came over and I was introduced to Barack Obama – I couldn’t believe it.

“I was about three people back in the crowd and there’s part of you that wants to push to the front and knock everybody out of the way and behave appallingly.

“There were some Assembly Members who did that, and there’s part of you that’s like ‘remember who you are, remember who you are, behave, behave, behave’ and I was kind of like half and half, didn’t know what to do and the person who was with Barak Obama said ‘I’d like to introduce you to Kirsty’, and I just couldn’t believe it.

“And he had a hold of my hand and I had a hold of his hand, and he said to me ‘good to meet you Kirsty’.

“And of course, what would have been an appropriate response?”

Felicity Evans said: “Great to meet you Mr President.”

Williams replied: “Exactly. Which is what I did not say. Instead. I said: ‘Oh no, oh no, it’s good to meet you Mr President. Ever since I saw your convention speech in Boston for John Kerry I knew then that you were the man’.

“At which point Barack Obama is trying to take his hand out of my hand which I am clutching on to, and they move him on, they move him on, and I am just like beside myself.”

‘Oh my God’ 

She added: “John Griffiths, Newport my Labour MS colleague said to me: ‘I knew you were the man?’.

“And I said: ‘Oh my God, did I really say that, did I really say that?’

“And fair play, David Davies, David TC Davies, MP for Monmouth, who’s very gallant, and he said: ‘Oh Kirsty, oh Kirsty, he liked you more than anybody’.

“I said ‘ thank you very much’ and I got in the car that night, got in the car to drive home and I rang my husband and I said ‘I met Barak Obama’, and he said to me ‘oh right, the kids have got swimming tomorrow, I can’t find the swimming costumes’,

“And I said ‘no, no, no, you’re not listening to me ‘I met and I spoke to Barak Obama’ and he said ‘yeah I know, but where are the swimming costumes?’.

She also told the programme a bit about her family’s connection to America, saying: “I’m a bit obsessed about America. It comes from my family history. My grandfather left Llanelli after the First World War and settled in America, and my father war born in America and retained his American citizenship throughout his life, and I did a degree in American studies, and my mini me daughter is hoping to do American studies.”

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2 years ago

It’s even more toe-curlingly embarrassing that a journalist doesn’t know how to spell Obama’s first name! Not even a typo. It’s spelled that way throughout the piece.

2 years ago

Oh you are a toe curling old misery. Get off your high horse, people probably get your name wrong at times too. Just enjoy the story it’s a good laugh and Obama couldn’t give a damn cos we all know who he is even when a journo calls him Barracks.

Josh J
Josh J
2 years ago

Pretty disgraceful that the journalist couldn’t be bothered to spell the former President’s name correctly. #everydayracism

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