Michelle Obama finally reveals why she will not run for office

Supporters of former first lady Michelle Obama have spent years hoping and sometimes even begging her to run for office -- and time and time again, she has disappointed them by saying she won't.

But in one of her first public engagements since leaving the White House in January, the former first lady opened up about why she's unwilling to run -- to protect her family.

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"It's all well and good until you start running, and then the knives come out," she said on Thursday, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

"Politics is tough, and it's hard on a family," she continued. "I wouldn't ask my children to do this again because, when you run for higher office, it's not just you, it's your whole family."

See what Barack, Michelle and Malia have been up to since leaving the White House:

The remarks came during an event she joined at the American Institute of Architects' annual conference.

The Obama daughters were not even teenagers when Barack Obama first moved into the White House, and while the press largely abided the unofficial rule against coverage of young first children, Michelle faced significant criticism during her time in the White House.

From her work to reduce childhood obesity through her "Let's Move" campaign to her fashion choices -- critics did not hesitate to share their sometimes blunt disdain for the former first lady.

SEE MORE: Professor who taught Obamas: Michelle should have been president

Michelle Obama may be done subjecting her family to the harsh political spotlight, but at least one key figure believes she would have made the better president.

Charles Ogletree, a Harvard professor who taught both of the Obamas, said recently of Barack, "you know his wife should have been president, absolutely."

See Michelle Obama pal around with her buddy George W. Bush: