Instead of openly attacking Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney like many of the speakers before her, first lady Michelle Obama instead depicted Barack Obama as a man of the people in her address before the Democratic National Convention Tuesday. In fact, she made no mention of Romney in her entire speech.
“Being president doesn’t change who you are — it reveals who you are,” the first lady said in a key line of her speech.
Michelle Obama was greeted with thunderous applause from the DNC crowd following her introduction and had to wait for the chants of “four more years!” to die down before she could begin.
“He reminds me that we are playing a long game here … and that change is hard, and change is slow and it never happens all at once,” she told a nation impatient with slow economic progress and persistently high unemployment of 8.3 percent. “But eventually, we get there, we always do,” she said in a speech that blended scenes from 23 years of marriages with the Obamas’ time in the White House.
The first lady continually praised her husband in the prime time speech as a devoted husband and caring father at home and a “man we can trust” to revive the nation’s weak economy as president, beckoning the country to return him to the White House despite agonizingly slow recovery from recession.
She told the story of Obama’s single mother, who struggled to pay the bills and his grandparents who stepped into help when little Barack needed it.
“They didn’t begrudge anyone else’s success or care that others had much more than they did. In fact, they admired it,” Michelle Obama said about both their parents.
“They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that, even if you don’t start out with much, if you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids,” she said.
Watch some of Michelle Obama’s remarks at the DNC Tuesday below:
The first lady went on to say that the extraordinary struggles and triumphs that her husband has faced has revealed who he is as a man, giving him credit for saving the auto industry and rebuilding the American economy.
Michelle Obama touted President Obama’s signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which she says helped “women get equal pay for equal work. She also said Obama cut taxes for the middle class and small businesses and saved the auto industry.
“That’s how he brought our economy from the brink of collapse to creating jobs again – jobs you can raise a family on, good jobs right here in the United States of America,” she added. “When it comes to the health of our families, Barack refused to listen to all those folks who told him to leave health reform for another day, another president.”
Michelle’s poll numbers are better than her husband’s, and her speech was aimed at building support for him, much as Ann Romney’s remarks at last week’s Republican National Convention were in service to her husband’s presidential ambitions.
Referring to her own children as well as those of others, she said, “If we want to give them that sense of limitless possibility, that belief that here in America there is always something better out there if you are willing to work for it, then we must … stand together for the man we can trust to keep moving this great country forward, my husband, our president, President Barack Obama.”
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The first lady went on: “Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love.”
At one point, an unidentified man shouted out “I love you Michelle!” But the first lady was undeterred and continued with her speech.
And despite some of the most divisive political rhetoric coming out of both the Obama and Romney campaigns, Michelle Obama argued the president is willing to work with anyone for the best interest of the country.
“I love that he’s never forgotten how he started. I love that we can trust Barack to do what he says he’s going to do, even when it’s hard – especially when it’s hard. I love that for Barack, there is no such thing as ‘us’ and ‘them’ – he doesn’t care whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above,” she said. “He knows that we all love our country…and he’s always ready to listen to good ideas…he’s always looking for the very best in everyone he meets.”
Touching upon the Obama campaign’s famous 2008 “change” slogan and the first lady reminded people that “change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once.” The line subtlety addressed concerns that Obama has not made enough progress in his first four years as president.
“And I say all of this tonight not just as First Lady…and not just as a wife,” Michelle Obama added. “You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still “mom-in-chief,” the line prompting generous applause.
The first lady concluded her address with a plea for all voters to support Barack Obama, her husband, and vote for him in the upcoming November election in order to move the country “forward.” Moving the country “forward” has emerged as a main theme at the DNC, which should come as little surprise as it is President Obama’s new campaign slogan.
“Because today, I know from experience that if I truly want to leave a better world for my daughters, and all our sons and daughters. If we want to give all our children a foundation for their dreams and opportunities worthy of their promise. If we want to give them that sense of limitless possibility – that belief that here in America, there is always something better out there if you’re willing to work for it. Then we must work like never before and we must once again come together and stand together for the man we can trust to keep moving this great country forward. My husband, our President, President Barack Obama.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.