Politics

Michelle Obama delivers keynote address

Monday, August 25, 2008

Michelle Obama delivered a critical speech in her husband's race for president Monday.

It was Monday at 9:30 p.m., during prime time at the Democratic National Convention.

"I can also see how the person she is today was formed in the experiences we shared growing up," said Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama's brother.

Obama told the crowd she came to Denver on an improbable journey as a sister, a wife, a mother - the daughter of a South Side Chicago city worker and a stay-at-home mom.

"Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life. That your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them," Obama said.

It was a speech designed to reveal more about the personal lives of Barack and Michelle Obama, perhaps a side of the candidate that people have not yet seen.

"Barack stood up that day and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about 'The world as it is,' and 'the world as it should be.' And he said that all too often, we accept the distance between the two and settle for the world as it is even when it doesn't reflect our values and aspirations," Michelle Obama said.

The Obama campaign said it believes that this story is one that voters can identify with personally, and Democrats hope they'll embrace.

"All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won't do, that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be. That is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack's journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope. That is why I love this country," Michelle Obama said.

On Monday morning, Michelle Obama got a firsthand look at her spot on the big stage. She was at the Pepsi Center with her children for the walkthrough rehearsal for her big keynote address Monday night.

She did not speak during the rehearsal, which was meant to familiarize her with the surroundings of the arena. She was expected to talk on a personal level about her family.

Her husband, the candidate, was still making stops across the country leading up to his big night Thursday.

"It really is the only time in the campaign where you own a large portion of the time to convey what you want in the campaign," said Matthew Dowd, ABC News political contributor.

Michelle Obama's husband and Democratic presumptive nominee Barack Obama was squeezing in a tour of four swing states before his arrival. But Colorado is not far from his mind.

"I'm still tooling around with my speech a little bit. Hopefully it will make clear the choice the American people are going to face in November," said Barack Obama.

Barack Obama is also aiming to make it clear to voters who he is, a task his wife Michelle took on Monday evening as she delivered the opening keynote address.

"Michelle is certainly a strength. She will speak in very personal terms about the Obama family, give a sense of who Barack is, who she is, how they were raised, the struggles, the challenges they faced along life's pathway, and the people that have inspired them throughout both their lives and this campaign," said Valerie Jarrett, Obama family friend, earlier Monday.

Monday night, however, did not just belong to the Obamas. The convention featured a tribute to the liberal lion, Senator Ted Kennedy, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. Kennedy himself took the stage in a surprise appearance to show his passionate support for Barack Obama.

On Monday morning, Senator Obama was in Davenport, Iowa, where he held what his campaign called a "one-nation town hall meeting." Barack Obama has been hitting key battle ground states.

Michelle's Background

Michelle Obama's father, Frasier Robinson, struggled with multiple sclerosis. He was a city worker.

"When you see a guy who gets up and goes to work every day, it makes it hard as a teenager to sit around all day," said Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama's vrother.

Michelle Obama grew up on Chicago's South Side with parents insisting that she could do anything. She went on to Princeton, then to Harvard Law.

Michelle and Barack Obama fell for each other when he was a junior associate at her law firm. With two children, both have had to balance careers with parenting. And now, there's the balance of being good parents while a dad runs for the presidency.

"What I said is: Barack, you have to be a good father, in addition to being a good president," Michelle Obama said.

"The message is for the American people. The whole theme of the campaign is the American people. They have much more time, and that's what they have learned to do is travel across this country," Jarrett said.

Michelle Obama shows her husband's personal side

Michelle Obama declared "I love this country" Monday as she sought to reassure the country that she and her husband Barack share their basic values and belief in the American dream.

In the first major address at the Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama said she and Barack Obama feel an obligation to "fight for the world as it should be" to ensure a better future for their daughters and all children.

The Obamas two daughters, Sasha and Malia, joined their mother on stage after the speech as Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" blared in the convention hall.

Obama's mission was to humanize her husband and tell skeptical voters that he is not so different, despite his unusual name and exotic background.

"Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation," she said. Her address was the first big step in a weeklong effort to reassure dubious voters that the party's presidential nominee understands their problems and beliefs.

They know the public Barack Obama, the man on magazine covers and nightly newscasts. His wife hoped to convince voters that he is a lot like they are, despite all the attention given to his African father, his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia and the incendiary remarks of his former minister.

Obama, who is bidding to be the first black U.S. president, has repeatedly faced questions about whether he's a "real" American.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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