He has modelled himself as a cool, calculated leader of the free world.
But at the age of 22 Barack Obama had a strong ‘sexual warmth’ that overwhelmed his girlfriend at the time, according to a new book that identifies her for the first time.
Vivid diaries written by Genevieve Cook reveal she was driven wild by the smell of sweat, smoking and deodorant that emanated from his bedroom.
She said that on Sundays the future US president loved to lounge around bare chested in a white and blue sarong whilst doing the newspaper crossword.
In a controversial claim she also recounted how he was deeply confused about his racial identity and ‘felt like an imposter because he was so white’.
In the end Obama, who was raised in Hawaii by his white mother, decided that he needed to ‘go black’ because it was best for him.
Cook has long been hailed as the ‘mystery woman’ from Obama’s days in New York that he wrote about in his own memoir.
This is the first time she has been identified or revealed her extensive diaries from the time she and Obama dated.
The disclosures are from a forthcoming book, Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, and features in the June edition of Vanity Fair.
The extracts reveal Obama and Cook met at a Christmas party in New York’s East Village in December 1983 when she was 25, three years older than him.
The two began seeing each other every Thursday night and on weekends and Cook instantly found herself drawn to her startling new friend.
“Genevieve described it in her journal this way: ‘I open the door, that Barack keeps closed, to his room, and enter into a warm, private space pervaded by a mixture of smells that so strongly speak of his presence, his liveliness, his habits — running sweat, Brut spray deodorant, smoking, eating raisins, sleeping, breathing’.”
The two eventually moved in together and spent their days cooking — Obama loved to make a ginger beef meal or tuna sandwiches the way his grandfather had taught him.
They read books together, spent hours talking about authors and Obama kept up his passion for jogging that he would keep with him in the White House.
In her diary Cook writes: “The sexual warmth is definitely there — but the rest of it has sharp edges and I’m finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all.. ...his warmth can be deceptive. Though he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness — and I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me.”
But during their relationship Cook and her lover did often talk about race and when they did Obama was quite revealing.
The book reads that it was part of his ‘inner need to find a sense of belonging’ and Cook encouraged it.
The book reads: “If she felt like an outsider, he was a double outsider, racial and cross-cultural. He looked black, but was he? He confessed to her that at times: ‘He felt like an imposter. Because he was so white. There was hardly a black bone in his body’.”
They broke up and in her diary she claims he was too cold and not giving her the level of emotional involvement that she needed.
Obama then went on to marry his wife Michelle in 1992 and have two children with her. The couple have been married for almost 20 years.
Excerpts from the book
... The sexual warmth is definitely there - but the rest of it has sharp edges and I'm finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all..
If she felt like an outsider, he was a double outsider, racial and cross-cultural. He looked black, but was he? He confessed to her that at times: 'He felt like an imposter. Because he was so white. There was hardly a black bone in his body.