First Lady Michelle Obama countered Ann Romney’s personal, heartfelt speech at last week’s Republican National Convention with her own portrait of discovery over the past four years in the White House: “I have seen firsthand that being president does not change who you are. No, it reveals who you are.”
In her address on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, Obama deviated from the standard script she’s been using on most of her campaign stops, which touches on her life with Barack Obama while outlining his policy achievements and rallying supporters to enlist their friends and neighbors as volunteers.
“Every day, the people I meet inspire me. Every day they make me proud. Every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth,” she reflected on her journeys across the country meeting people as first lady.
Obama said she was concerned about coming to Washington because before her husband ran for the Oval Office, life “was filled with simple joys.”
“Saturdays at soccer games, Sundays at grandma’s house, and a date night for Barack and me with either dinner or a movie because as an exhausted mom, I couldn’t stay awake for both,” she said. “And the truth is, I loved the life we had built for our girls. And I deeply love the man I built that life with and I did not want that to change if he became president.”
“I loved Barack just the way he was. You see, even back then, when Barack was a senator and presidential candidate, to me, he was still the guy who picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by in a hole in the passenger side door. He was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a Dumpster.”
She said they both had grown up in families without much in the way of material possessions, but “we learned about dignity and decency. That how hard you work matters more than how much you make. That helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.”
The first lady praised the president for healthcare reform, student aid, cutting taxes, and bringing “our economy on the brink of collapse to creating jobs again.”
“In the end for Barack, these issues are not political. They’re personal,” Obama said. “Because Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids. Barack knows the American dream because he’s lived it.”
She said that “when it comes to his character and his convictions and his heart,” the presidency has not changed Barack Obama.
“He is the same man who started his career by turning down high-paying jobs and instead of working in struggling neighborhoods where a steel plant had shutdown, fighting to rebuild communities and get folks back to work. Because for Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people’s lives,” Obama said.
“And I did not think it was possible, but let me tell you today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago. Even more than I did 23 years ago when we first met,” she added. “…I love that for Barack, there is no such thing as us and them. He doesn’t care whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above. He knows that we all love our country, and he is always ready to listen to good ideas, he is always looking for the very best in everyone he meets.”
The first lady said that, at the end of the day, her “most important title is still mom-in-chief.”
“But, let me tell you, today, I have none of those worries from four years ago, no. Not about whether Barack and I were doing what was best for our girls,” she said.
“Because today, I know from experience that if I truly want to leave a better world for my daughters, and for all of our sons and daughters, if — if we want to give all of our children a foundation for their dreams, and opportunities worthy of their promise, if we want to give them a sense of that limitless possibility, their belief that here in America, there is always something better out there if you are 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.”