Michelle Obama says husband’s unique experience goes unsung
The bar has been set too high for many Americans, but hope is possible when people are willing to compromise and make the necessary changes to the system, Michelle Obama said Monday.
"It seems like the life I had was a long time ago because back then you could raise a family of four on a single city worker’s salary," Michelle Obama, wife of presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said.
Speaking at the University Center’s Houston Room, Michelle Obama said that a troubled economy, lagging public educational system and exorbitant health care costs have made it increasingly difficult for families to make ends meet and ensure a good education for their children.
The No Child Left Behind Act has hindered public schools, she said, but the problem can be remedied if the nation invests in better teachers and social workers and allocates the necessary funding to make every school a model school, she said.
"What I want America to know is that when they look at me, they don’t see perhaps the next first lady of the United States," Michelle Obama said. "They see what a product of public education looks like."
She said that in an era of disparaging partisan politics and political sideswipes, Barack Obama is the key to making the inroads required to heal the nation.
"It is easy to be cynical," Michelle Obama said. "But America is watching this race. Folks around the breakfast table are talking about super delegates and pledged delegates."
Barack Obama has overcome numerous hurdles by amassing unprecedented donation amounts from ordinary people and sweeping the Iowa Democratic caucus despite unfavorable odds, she said.
His sweep through South Carolina was unprecedented, she said.
"Not only does he win, but he wins by such a large margin,√Æ"she said. "He wins not just the African-American vote, he wins that state – every single county except two."
Michelle Obama said her husband is no stranger to such skepticism, noting that Barack Obama – raised by a white teenage mother in a period of heightened racial prejudice – became the first black president of the Harvard Law Review.
"There’s no other candidate in this race who can claim to have been the top law student at the top law school in the world," she said.
Critics chide Barack Obama’s alleged inexperience, she said, but they neglect to credit his years of working in the shadows.
"He could have became a clerk on the Supreme Court. He could have worked at a Fortune 500 company. He could be a millionaire right now," she said. "But what did he choose to do? He chose to become a constitutional law scholar and work at a small civil-rights firm in Chicago."
Barack Obama’s background of community outreach projects, civil-rights litigation and eight coalition-building years in the divisive Illinois State Senate illustrates his integrity and ability to unite, she said.
Michelle Obama said that ultimately the importance of Barack Obama’s campaign is best personified by the boundless aspirations of a 10-year-old girl the couple encountered on the campaign trail in South Carolina.
"She said, ‘Ms. Obama, I need to tell you something. Do you realize that when your husband becomes the next president of the U.S. it will be historical?’" Michelle Obama said. "I asked her, though, ‘What does that mean for you?’ And she said, without skipping a beat, ‘It means that I can imagine anything for myself.’"