Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images
First Lady Michelle Obama, gearing up for what she called her “big night” at the Democratic National Convention, has a very clear goal in mind.
“My job tonight is going to be to remind people about who my husband is,” she said during a conference call with women reporters around the country, including iVillage. “Because even though he’s a very likable president, he has been the president and he’s had a very serious role, and there are few times when he can really let his hair down and sometimes it’s important for people to remember who this man is in terms of his values and his convictions and his character.”
Mrs. Obama will also try to recapture some of the magic and excitement of her husband’s first presidential run as the Democrats open their nominating convention in Charlotte, North Carolina for his re-election. “Four years ago, millions of people across this country elected the leader they knew would stand up for them in office, and I want people to know that Barack is still that leader. He is still driven by the core values and principles that made him want to do this incredibly tough job in the first place,” she said. "I am really excited to talk with everyone about why it's so important to give him the chance to finish the job that we elected him to do four years ago."
President Obama won’t be with his wife in Charlotte. He’ll be watching from the White House and likely getting “all misty” he told supporters earlier in Virginia when the person he called the “star of the Obama family” takes the stage. The president will be at home with Malia and Sasha, who just started school today. The first lady acknowledged she was “anxiously wondering” how their first day was going as she talked to us.
Another goal not stated but clear from Mrs. Obama's comments during the conference call is reminding voters, especially the crucial independent swing voters, about the president’s middle class background. “This speech has given me an opportunity to reminisce about our lives together and how we grew up ... because we were both raised in middle class families and we understand the challenges that come when folks are out of work and the economy is struggling.”
The first lady's speech is also very much focused on talking about “everything that’s on the line for women in this election,” she said, from health care reform, which allows women to get free coverage for preventive services such as mammograms to the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the first bill the president signed into law, giving women the right to sue for equal pay for equal work.
“So tonight and throughout the week in Charlotte and all around the country from now until November, I’m going to be doing everything in my power to make sure that everyone, especially our mothers and daughters, our sisters, our best friends, our neighbors, that we all understand what’s at stake in November because while we’ve come a long way in Barack’s first term, it is critical that we keep moving forward. We simply cannot turn back now. There is so much on the line for us as women not just for the next four years but for decades to come.”
And how will she determine success? “Hopefully, people will receive my remarks well. That is my hope in the end.”
We’ll be watching!
WATCH: Michelle Obama on How Her Girls Fast Forward Through Those Negative Ads
Kelly Wallace is chief correspondent of iVillage. She recently conducted an hour long interview with the first lady as part of Mrs. Obama's guest editor role with iVillage. You can follow Kelly on Twitter (@kellywallacetv).