First lady strikes personal chord in DNC speech

September 4, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
First lady Michelle Obama told the nation a personal story of family and one of her husband's dedication at the Democratic National Convention. It was the biggest speech of the opening night and she had the opportunity to define the president in her own terms.

"He was still the guy who'd pick 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," said Michelle.

She said before their decision about running for the White House, she was worried it would change them.

"I have seen first-hand that being president doesn't change who you are. No, it reveals who you are," said Michelle.

She said her husband refused to listen to those who told him leave healthcare reform to someone else.

"He did it because he believes that here in America our grandparents should be able to afford their medicine. Our kids should be able to see a doctor when they're sick. 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," said Michelle.

And in an obvious reference to the Republican opponents, she said, "For Barack, success isn't about how much money you make, it's about the difference you make in people's lives."

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said, "And I think Michelle Obama in her brilliance really laid it out."

"It was so sincere and so real and you cannot help but know that it touches everybody," said Anna Lane of Mill Valley.

"She did everything that I thought she was going to do and again, we're all fired up and ready to go. Great speech," said Tony Alexander of San Jose.

"A couple of lines that sick out, 'It's not about how much money we make, but the kind of impact we make on each other's lives.' Hope and opportunity were wound into it all," said State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

Wednesday night it will be former President Bill Clinton's turn. He will place Barack Obama's name in nomination -- one of the most anticipated speeches of the convention.

Earlier on Tuesday, Obama said he would be watching Michelle's convention speech, trying not to get too choked-up in front of his daughters.

Many high-powered women took to the stage at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday. There was some star power and ABC7 caught up with "American Beauty" actress Thora Birch, who played Kevin Spacey's daughter in the movie. However, it was Birch's political activism that got her a current role as a delegate.

"It's actually really simple. You just kind of fill out a form and go to a meeting and in my area, people know me," said Birch. She said she was motivated to become a delegate by the Republican nominee. "The idea of a Romney administration, to me is... I'll just be honest... it's important."

When asked about Clint Eastwood's performance at the Republican National Convention, she said, "I love his films, especially the ones that he's directed, so it's really hard to slam him, but I think maybe he needed to sit down or something. It seemed like he was trying something and it just didn't really come across that well. I don't think it worked that well."

Birch says Obama's supporters in the film industry were wild for him four years ago. But this time around she said, "I think at the end of the day, everybody realizes that this is still our guy and we absolutely have to do what we can to make sure he gets re-elected. But I think that it's not a series of rock concerts anymore."

There may not be a rock concert-like atmosphere, but Michelle will attempt to rock the DNC Tuesday night and cap off a day devoted to attracting women to Obama, or at least their votes. ABC7 also spoke to other high-powered women at the DNC.

In the evening, Michelle took the stage after a long line of high-powered women such as Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Incidentally, the polls are out showing Obama's support among women has been dropping in the last couple of weeks. He is counting on women and Tuesday was a big day for women starting with the California delegation.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. rallied the delegates in the morning by answering the Republican challenger's favorite question. "'Are we better off than we were in 2008?' Yes, we are!"

"He got through the affordable care act, he saved our auto industry," said Harris.

But it took Democratic analyst Donna Brazile at this morning's women's conference to delegates fired up. She said, "You get ready to groove this thing out! You get ready to shake a tail feather! You get ready to tell America, 'We love America, we fight for America,'"

Brazile was followed by Actress Ashley Judd who said, "That you Miss Donna? I needed to go to church and what I heard was the gospel of social justice and what I heard is that a woman should earn as much as a man for the same work."

It was red meat for the 1,000 or so women in the hall, including Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. She said, "For many of us, our lives are at stake and the lives of our children and the lives of our grandchildren are at stake, so this is a big fight for us. I'm hoping that we're going to come out and I hope we're going to come out big."

African-American women among the California delegates planned to head to the arena early to see Michelle.

"I just want her to make the case for the reason why her husband needs to get reelected so he can finish the work that he started," said Leslie Robertson of San Leandro.

"The lies that they're telling against her husband, she's taking it with stride and I'm very, very proud," said Bridgette Hendricks of Fremont.

"Well if we were ranking from 1 to 10, I'd give her a 10," said Brenda Mcneill of Vallejo.

Democratic National Convention live coverage
ABC News is providing live coverage of the convention and we'll be streaming it here live from 4 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

Weeklong local ABC7 News coverage
ABC7 News political reporter Mark Matthews will be reporting from Charlotte all this week and you can follow along on Twitter at @MatthewsABC7 or on Facebook for instant updates.

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