CHARLOTTE - First Lady Michelle Obama was the last speaker at the first session of the Democratic National Convention, and, judging by the crowd's thunderous response and its repeated standing ovations, her speech was well worth waiting for.
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In her speech, Michelle Obama tried to convince the audience that the Oval Office didn't change her husband - that he still cares and can achieve his goals. She drew on a place of consensus that she has used endless times before - family.
"Serving as your First Lady is an honor and a privilege. But back when we first came together four years ago, I still had some concerns about this journey we'd begun. While I believed deeply in my husband's vision for this country, and I was certain he would make an extraordinary President - like any mother, I was worried about what it would mean for our girls if he got that chance..."
The popular first lady was the highest-profile advocate for her husband in the first of three days of speeches that will conclude with Obama's address on Thursday to accept the Democratic presidential nomination to face Mitt Romney on Nov. 6.
As Ann Romney did a week prior, Michelle Obama spoke about the guy she still loves - and elaborated on his personal story, the story most Americans are familiar with by now, unlike in 2008.
"You see, even though back then Barack was a Senator and a presidential candidate, to me, he was still the guy who'd picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door. He was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he'd found in a dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small."
She told about her childhood and a father who, despite suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, was working hard to be able to send his kids to college. "And as I got to know Barack, I realized that even though he'd grown up all the way across the country, he'd been brought up just like me," she said.
"Barack was raised by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills, and by grandparents who stepped in when she needed help. Barack's grandmother started out as a secretary at a community bank and she moved quickly up the ranks, but like so many women, she hit a glass ceiling."
"That's how they raised us. 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. We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters," said Michelle Obama.
"That you don't take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules, and success doesn't count unless you earn it fair and square. We learned about gratitude and humility, and we were taught to value everyone's contribution and treat everyone with respect. Those are the values Barack and I – and so many of you – are trying to pass on to our own children. That's who we are. And standing before you four years ago, I knew that I didn't want any of that to change if Barack became President. After so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are – it reveals who you are.
"When it comes to rebuilding our economy," she added, "Barack is thinking about folks like my dad and like his grandmother. He's thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day's work... He believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care. That's what my husband stands for.
The audience replied with chants of "Four more years! Four more years" and "Fired up! Ready to go!"