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(Yahoo/AP) — Michelle Obama is a hit at home and abroad but she will come under particular scrutiny this week as she embarks on her first solo trip outside the U.S., visiting Mexico. How she performs on this diplomatic missionwill be closely watched because she is not just the president’s wife, she is the most prominent ambassador for her husband’s foreign policies.

Such trips are not a small undertaking, and they can carry more weight than might be expected.

When the First Lady travels abroad, foreigners take cues about policy substance and tonality from her.  They understand she is the last person the president sees at the end of many days.  Advice that she offers has a meaningful impact on substantive policy.

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