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In Iowa, the Candidate's Wife
Introduces the 'Real Obamas'


Michelle Obama speaking to Iowa voters earlier this summer. (AP).

ROCKWELL CITY, Iowa--From Waterloo to Iowa Falls and Fort Dodge to Boone, Michelle Obama picked up her campaign pace this week, telling enthusiastic audiences that her husband can change the nation. She urged a group seated on folding chairs in a library basement here, "Just dream. If you reach into your hearts and act without fear, we can do something special."

Sen. Barack Obama, well behind Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) in national polls, is intensifying his efforts in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, where strategists hope to raise the Illinois Democrat's profile and build steam after months when Clinton's position has grown only stronger.

Michelle Obama's role, as she describes it, is to introduce "the real Obamas, not the resumes." In a stump speech that she varies and delivers without notes, she tells of her upbringing in a working class family in Chicago. She goes on to say that, after Princeton University and Harvard Law School, she met this biracial guy from Hawaii with a funny name who overcame her skepticism by being authentic and principled -- and cute.

Mindful of doubts about Barack Obama's experience and toughness, she has added riffs that guide her listeners through his work as a community organizer, public interest lawyer, University of Chicago constitutional law professor and 11 years in elective office. Experience should not be equated with time spent in Washington, she says, arguing that old Washington hands led the nation into war because of their "inability to see the forest for the trees."

"We need someone who understands and respects the Constitution, particularly as we have seen it obliterated," Michelle Obama told more than 100 people at a Fort Dodge art museum Wednesday. Noting that skeptics ask whether he can take the GOP's best shot and still win, she reminded her audience of the political rough and tumble of his adopted town: "Look, we live in Chicago. Need I say more?"

Obama made six stops in two days, canceling two on Tuesday after a motorcyclist slammed into her campaign van south of Hampton. It was her tenth trip to Iowa, but her first campaign overnight without daughters Malia, 9, and Sasha, 6, who remain in school in Chicago. She leaves for a London fundraising excursion on Sunday and expects to be a regular in Iowa and New Hampshire, with additional stops in South Carolina and Nevada, in the two and a half months or so before voting begins.

She says she is undaunted by Clinton's lead, remembering her husband's improbable victory in the 2004 Illinois Senate race against well-known and well-funded Democrats backed by the party establishment. One hope in Obamaville is that that Clinton is overplaying her inevitability theme, and will be upbraided by independent-minded Iowa and New Hampshire voters.

"We're three months out," Michelle Obama, 43, a University of Chicago Hospitals vice president, said in an interview. "This is the beginning of the race. People are just starting to pay attention."

The campaign is sponsoring a "Women for Obama" training session on Saturday in Des Moines. Participants will spend 5 1/2 hours with Obama policy advisors and communications specialists at workshops with names such as "message training," "policy training," "grassroots organizing" and "caucus activity."

Barack Obama, who worked for three years in impoverished South Side neighborhoods after graduating from Columbia University, will make an appearance.

"History will tell you that while the clock is ticking, there's a lot of time," David Axelrod, the campaign's chief strategist said after listening to Obama talk to the Rockwell City crowd. "The real action is not in the last 100 days, it's in the last 30."

The Obama campaign is counting on it.

-- Peter Slevin

By Washington Post editors  |  October 11, 2007; 11:35 AM ET
 
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Comments

Hillary does not exhibit any moral courage, that I've seen. Conversely, in 2002, Senator Obama spoke out publicly and strongly, against this 'rash, dumb, ideological war of choice'. He did so even though it could have jeopardized his Senate run. He had the moral courage to speak out, even when the Congress was moving in lock-step behind President Bush in banging the drum to go to war. Obama stood up and SPOKE TRUTH TO POWER.
Obama doesn't pander to any audience. Other politicians tell specific audiences exactly what they want to hear, even if it is wrong for the country. Obama speaks the hard truths to all constituencies he addresses, even if it hurts. America is facing a lot of hard truths these days, and Obama stands out as a unique leader who doesn't sugarcoat the truth. The stakes are too high.

Judgment - Zbignew Brzezinski, one of the most distinguished foreign policy experts in America today, recently formally endorsed him for president, and he said he did so because of Obama's good judgment. He noted how President Kennedy was advised by those all around him to use nuclear weapons during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And yet, this young, wise president had the good judgment to say no to them, and use a naval blockade, instead. He saved us all from an all-out nuclear war! THAT is the good judgment Brzezinski is talking about.

The wisdom that Senator Obama has shown is what our country needs in a president. In contrast, Senators Clinton, Biden, Edwards and Dodd ALL voted for the war and Sen. Clinton didn't even take the time to read the 90 page NIE (National Intelligence Estimate), that was given to all senators, even with 10 days to read the report, before casting the most important vote of her life. That is a double tragedy. First, not reading the report before sending other people's kids off to die or get maimed in a war represents a gross dereliction of duty. Second, already planning her run for the presidency and fearing looking weak, made a POLITICAL CALCULATION and cast her vote for the war.

So, let's see... The single most important vote of her life, which SHE GOT WRONG, ushered in the single most devastating foreign policy blunder in American history. I do not trust her judgment, as she failed the test on the most important vote. She doesn't have it.

Also, if being first lady in the governor's mansion for 8 years and another 8 years in the White House qualifies as relevant 'experience' to be president, then why not Laura Bush for president? How preposterous is that? This is how the Clinton Machine spins and manipulates perceptions, with Bill Clinton going around calling her 'the most qualified non-incumbent in all his years of voting'. I guess if you repeat something enough times, people believe it. And if one of them is not on the MSM, the other one is, piggybacking each other and hogging the media airwaves, 24/7 in this tag team dog and pony show to saturate American's minds with only Clintons...their images, voices, everywhere you look. I just hope the people in Iowa, NH and South Carolina have their blitzkrieg filters up and running. And I don't think they take kindly to that Machine, along with the MSM, telling them who they're going to vote for.

The single most important quality in a president is judgment. He's got it. Time served in Washington does not equate to good judgment, as the other long-time Washington insiders have proven. In Obama, we have someone who will unite our country and the world.

Posted by: pacifica1 | October 12, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks jade7243!

I agree completely!
The media is promoting the idea that "it's all over" for the Democratic primary and I hope for the country that they are wrong. The Republicans are itching to run against Hillary because they know that they can drag all the scandals from the 90's back.

Barack the vote!

Posted by: dgarti | October 12, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Some of these comments regarding Hillary (senior advisor) or Jackson and Sharpton "influencing" Obama, as well as the well-worn "not black enough" (read that as it's opposite: not white enough either) would be downright hilarious if not for the fact that some of you folks actually believe this "Faux News."

The record will show clearly that Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady of Arkansas (FLOA) and former First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) was never in any shape, form or fashion a senior advisor to the President. A reasonable case be made that she barely shared a bedroom with him let alone an opinion. Mrs. Clinton used her husband's popularity to elbow her way into a Senate race in New York. Note that despite being well-known in Arkansas as FLOA she eschewed that, as well as her home state of Illinois (where she might have had to deal with the Daley machine, or Obama head-to-head) to run in New York. Note also that Rudy Giuliani was in that race until an untimely bout with prostate cancer made him drop out. It was little Rick Fazio (former Rep., R-NY) who had to step into the ring against the Missus.

The issue of whether Obama has the experience or the "chops" to be president is one concocted by the media and those who think that 140+ years post Emancipation and Reconstruction is still way too soon for this man to have the "Audacity" to run for president.

Electing Hillary will not bring back Bill, as lovesick for him as some of you may be. Hillary is in fact more troubling than Bill ever was (bimbo eruptions and all) because she's never held a position she couldn't triangulate. She was against (or for) everything before she was for (or against) it. She can't say that her vote to go to war was a mistake, because she failed to read the National Intelligence Estimate, but assumed from the Bush administration provided briefing that bombing the hell out of Iraq was a thoughtful thing to do. How interesting that this little known state legislator from Illinois could figure out -- without access to the high-powered, plugged-in Washington experts -- that Iraq wasn't the place and Saddam wasn't the man.

Don't know about you, but I'm going to "Barack My Vote!"

Posted by: jade7243 | October 11, 2007 6:38 PM | Report abuse

As a supporter of Barack Obama, I have been disappointed by the Obama campaign's apparent drift--if the media's incessant polling is to be believed. I hope the Obama campaign will take a good look at David Ignatius' excellent column in today's Washington Post ("Can Mr. Cool Get Hot," Oct. 11). It may provide some clues as to what Obama needs to do if his campaign is going to get back into contention for the nomination. There needs to be some new energy and enthusiasm.

Posted by: cpaustin408 | October 11, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I honestly believe that Obama would be a very good, and possibly even an excellent, president. But he'll never win the nomination. Why? Because the same sick conditions that allowed W to be nominated by his party in 2000, when all he really had going for him was name recognition, still exist. Democratic party officials will ultimately push for that same result (i.e. backing Hillary Clinton) believing it will give them the best chance of winning the white house. And the majority of the American public, who are nowhere near as knowledgable and informed as most of the commenters on this column, will vote for that familiar name. Just think about all the reinforcement she will get from the party machinery and the media. No one else, no matter how deserving or how good they might possibly be for our country, stands a chance. Sorry folks, but that's the reality of how our political system operates these days.

Posted by: ccrlee | October 11, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

To Lartfromabove: when was H. Clinton "senior advisor to the president"? She was the first lady, not senior advisor. She is also not a "feminist" because she stood by while her husband used women for sexual purposes. The only thing she was good at was attempting to stop the "bimbo eruptions". She is only a "feminist" when it suits her.

To: No Bush: I have not seen anything that indicates that Jackson and/or Sharpton would influence Senator Obama if he were to become president. If anything, he is keeping his distance from them. Michelle Obama is a "strong" woman who would make a fine first lady.

Posted by: bringbackimus | October 11, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

When did being First Lady become being a "Senior Advisor in the White House??" The idea that Hillary was even close to the real decision making is a hopeful stretch on her campaign's part. . .Just how stupid do they think we are as voters??? Get a clue. . .We need real change. . .We need to have a different process of government, not the same old stuff that has created the "Two Family" Dynasty on Pennsylvania Avenue. . .We are ready to come together to solve our common problems, not just continue the old politics of Special Interests and corrupt dealmaking that Hillary represents. . .She still has not gotten the whole war thing clarified, and still supports the Bush plan to continue the greed-mongers. . .

Yes, Obama '08!!!

Posted by: shirleyfly | October 11, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Run Al, run!

Posted by: steven09 | October 11, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I think Michelle Obama seems like a really smart woman. She clearly is a successful lawyer.

But she recently has taken to using the term "we" when talking about the Presidency and that is scary. She talked to a group of women in DC and said she is concerned that people are worried about "our experience" to be President. They all but laughed I was told. No one thinks Michelle Obama has the experience to be President so she should go back to talking about Barack's experience. That is what people care about.

The two for one deal nearly sunk Bill Clinton in 1992 and it will do the same for the Obamas if they try to use it. It is only now that Hillary can use the two for one line and as the polls say almost 65% of the public like that idea. But then her spouse is a past President.

Obama is just not ready and as someone recently said it will take him and Michelle the first year to find the bathrooms in the White House and to find the levers of power. They and every other candidate and their spouse except for Hillary Clinton has this problem.

Hillary Clinton can enter the White House on January 20, 2009 and get to work for the nation. We need that- we don't have that extra year to wait for the change we need.

Posted by: peterdc | October 11, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if Obama's "black enough" to be president.

I don't really give a f*@# about that.

But I DO know he's MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH to be our president; he looks for thoughtful, reasonable solutions on a lot of issues. He's someone who's determined to change this nation for the better and help us get back to where we need to be.

He separates the game from the truth and tells you things straight up, even if it's not what you wanted to hear. With all the self-inflicted damage of the past seven years to fix, and more to come, that's what we need.

Go Obama Go!

Posted by: jcbcmb68 | October 11, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

What's odd to me is that I read about all these various polls and Clinton is leading by a larger and larger margin. Yet when I read on various blogs what citizens feel, it's always O'bama! Something's gotta give because I feel like the media is really trying to pull one over on me and you. It's always easy to tell who the best person for the job is; the more ridiculous the con's, the better off that person is for the job. Just read how ridiculous the few con's presented here are. O'bama 08

Posted by: doesntmatter | October 11, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I lived in Obama's state senate district in Chicago. The person who wrote the first comment above about Obama benefiting from "Clinton's coattails" in 1996 obviously doesn't know a thing about the district that elected him. So, it's not at all surprising that the same reader is unaware of his "accomplishments." Obama was both a leader and a unifier, tackling very tough issues (campaign finance reform and police interrogations, just to name a couple of very sensitive ones) and coming up with solutions that gained bipartisan support. His former state senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle unanimously praise his integrity, talent, and effectiveness.

The idea that he is too inexperienced is laughable. He has more experience as an elected official in Washington than did 4 of the last 5 presidents. As for the counter-argument that this isn't "executive" experience, then go ahead and have your pick of the former mayor of Cleveland and the governor of New Mexico.

Obama is the only candidate who has the vision, judgment, and virtue to be not just a good president, but the best president in most people's living memory -- which would be a nice way of following the worst.

Posted by: jmcgrath1 | October 11, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

LOL!

"Barack Obama has never even hinted that he is running for President of Negroia."

...that's a good one!

I love the way some of you progressives are shutting up the neo-Confederate conservative troglodytes in this thread -- Articulately and with facts to boot.

Obama represents more than the presidency of the US. He represents one big fight: thwarting right-wing nuts who would love to roll back fifty years of civil rights gains.

Obama is coming, clear the way: http://tinyurl.com/2trtrv

Posted by: Fimbo | October 11, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I usually "watch" politics because it has turned into a game. The difference with this election is that there is a candidate that actually seems to want genuine change. I used to be cynical when it came to voting because I felt there wasn't a clear choice. This election is different. I will vote. I just ask everyone to put their thinking caps on and not allow the media to dictate the issues. If you live and work in America you should have your own issues and you should be looking at how each candidate is addressing "your" issues. Dont let the media take us down another ride of nonsense as they are doing now with the "American flag pin" or "Law and order come to life", and "black enough - woman enough" issues that they have created to distract and trick you.

Posted by: kdofour2000 | October 11, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Earlier this week Former Sec of Defense Bill Cohen said that Hillary Clinton was never included in meetings that he attended as a member of the Clinton cabinet.Further, Obama defeated the Democratic establishment in 2004 when he ran against the State Comptroller who is the son of a long-time Democratic leader. Some people should check their facts before referring to Hillary as a senior advisor and easy contests in Illinois

Posted by: TedL04 | October 11, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

If Hillary Rodham Clinton is so proud of her experience as First Lady, why did she have a records sealed until after the elections? These should be open for all the public to see what exactly she did that gave her the experience she claim? Fortunately for us, we already knew how disastorous her leadership of healthcare reform was before she ordered her records to be sealed. One wonders what she is hiding and even more, why any judge agreed to seal the records. If the Washington Post and other MSM were to trully do their duty to inform the public, they will appeal this decision- but as we all know they and all other media including the Clinton News Network have become extensions of her campaign full of talking heads that, just like Hillary herself, are riding on Bill's coat-tails.

Posted by: pmasundire | October 11, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Sorry dcis1, that was meant for NoBush.

Posted by: cjones2002 | October 11, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Obama has the intelligence, the local and world-wide experience, and the necessary courage behind his vision of a better future. Hillary is anchored in NYC interests, a cloudy past, and a cold, calculating personality. Pelosi for President in 2007, Obama in 20008 ! Roll on , Barach and Michelle. American needs you both in the once White House. Down with the racists and purveyers of the past and triangulation ! Forward with the courage to change America for the best !

Posted by: JohnNyrenBuchanan | October 11, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Cjones2002. You probably should re-read my comments.

Posted by: dcis1 | October 11, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Michelle Obama would make a fantastic First Lady. It is disgusting that there are so many racist creeps crawling out from under rocks to comment on this post.

Posted by: marSF | October 11, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Exactly - whats the matter with people? Anyone who says they know nothing about him is not paying attention. Obama is our only real hope and that's the truth. No Bush - put your bigotry where the sun refuses to shine. Obama is not all black, or all white, or all politician - he is an inspired leader who knows all too well that we live in a global community. Does his intelligence and charisma bother you? How about the fact that he is a constitutional scholar at a time when this power hungry regime is trying to take your constitutional rights away from you? The world is not filled with White Christian Men - go join the Shriners and stay home on November 2nd!

Posted by: sheridan1 | October 11, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

When I read ignorant comments like "shutter to think" and "he's not experienced and/or black enough," I think back to what Michelle is actually saying:

"Just dream. If you reach into your hearts and act without fear, we can do something special."

Everything this country has done since 9/11 has been driven by fear. And if they get their way, that's how you'll vote next year. But imagine. Imagine what we could do if we acted without fear.
Stop compromising.
Stop "playing it safe."
If you want change - and I know you do - if you want to undo the damage, if you want your country back as badly as I do, then take Michelle's words to heart.

Reach into your hearts and act without fear.

Posted by: hbg16 | October 11, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama has never even hinted that he is running for President of Negroia. He has made it very clear that he is looking to serve everyone as President of the United States.

Posted by: cwh2 | October 11, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"...Michelle Obama as first lady and Jesse and Sharpton running the government..."

I 'shutter' to think that anyone who believes such utter nonsense actually has the right to vote. The no-nothing brigade is already out in full force when it comes to Obama.

Posted by: judgeccrater | October 11, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

NObush, what gives you the idea to think if Obama was elected 'Jesse & Sharpton' would have any ties relating to our national government? That's just naive thinking and the kind of attitude that shows your ignorance.

Posted by: chambers_rinarde | October 11, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Dcis1's posting is an absolute farce. Michelle Obama would make a fabulous first lady with the poise and experience to get things done. To even propose that Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton would be running the country is sophmoric and borderline racist. Regardless of what anyone says, there is no training ground for Presidents. Many of our greatest presidents did not come out of Washington's elite and some of our worst did. Obama has a greater ability to bring the country together than any other candidate amongst the Dems or the GOP. More importantly he, by his election alone, moreso than even Hillary, can change the entire tenor of discussions amongst our international allies and foes. The "black enough" debate is a false debate being propogated by the media that has no being on his ability to lead. Finally, most importantly, he tells the truth - plain and simple.

Posted by: cjones2002 | October 11, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I shutter to think of Michelle Obama as first lady and Jesse and Sharpton running the government--we've had 7 years of disaster we can't stand another 4 or 8 and that's what Obama would be.

Posted by: nobush | October 11, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Broken, Just FYI, Obama didn't start the "black enough" controversy. These were insults being hurled at him.

He has not ever suggested that he would be the president of "blacks." He knows that he can't talk about his race.

Posted by: dcis1 | October 11, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

As far as "benefited from the Clinton coattails of 1996". Who do you think is benefiting from Clinton (Bill) today, Obama or Hillary? I don't think we would be talking about Hillary Clinton today if it weren't for Bill. Honestly I don't think she would ever have been elected to office if she hadn't been First Lady before hand.
I will not be convinced that she has "experience" because she was First Lady. She wasn't elected into the position she was there because he was there. I feel sad for people who will buy into her game.
Being in Washington doesn't automatically give you experience. At least not the kind that would make a good president (Bush anyone?). What you need to ask yourself is what will this candidate do for ME. He or She will be OUR president. He or She will work for US. I don't believe Hillary Clinton will do anything for US, I think she will do for the people in Washington who helped get her there. It will be the same junk we've dealt with over and over again. Wake up people.
And as far as the "black enough" issue. Obama didn't start that, the media and their need for any story no matter what it is mentality started that one. So if you're looking for divisiveness look no further then the media your reading or watching. Wake up America.

Posted by: fire_phoenixx | October 11, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Lart, I'm confused about your statements.

How exactly does Obama's years in elective office translate to clinging to Clinton's coattails?

His public service career started in '85 after he had already graduated from Columbia. He continued it after leaving Harvard.

If we are to compare apples to oranges:

Biden had held elective office for 20 years prior to Clinton's white house
advisor duties.

Biden 20 and Dodd about 18.


Posted by: dcis1 | October 11, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Barack and Michelle Obama get it right, every time, with everything they say, without lapsing into mushmouth generalities or dodgy non-answers. We need them in the White House NOW.

Posted by: cwh2 | October 11, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I was very interested in what Mr.Obama had to say until the "not black enough" controversy. And the backslappin' with Rev. Sharpton. I figure we have enough divisiveness.

I'll give a listen again, but he is going to have to convince me he will be ALL the people's president.

Posted by: brokenanvil | October 11, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

(Pardon me for posting on the actual topic.)

Iowans like personal contact with politicians and they like to give candidates a thoughtful hearing. They are not iconoclasts and they aren't going to vote for a fringe candidate solely to poke the eye of the party leadership. The last thing Iowa Democrats want to do is assert their own irrelevance by ignoring the rest of the country.

I am reading "eleven years in elective office" as "this man benefited from the Clinton coattails in 1996", i.e. his career started when Hillary Clinton had been a senior advisor in the White House for four years. And no matter how tough Chicago politics may be, it's not actually that difficult for Democrats to win in Illinois. What he needs is not just good ideas, but a record of accomplishment.

Mr. Obama is an excellent lecturer with useful things to contribute to American political discourse. Quite possibly he'll make a good presidential candidate someday, maybe in 2016.

Posted by: lartfromabove | October 11, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

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