First Lady Michelle Obama had “some concerns” about her and her husband’s journey, she told the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina on Wednesday, in a speech that focused on her husband’s achievements in the economic field during his term as President.
“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.
“Our life before moving to Washington was filled with simple joys...Saturdays at soccer games, Sundays at grandma's house...and a date night for Barack and me was either dinner or a movie, because as an exhausted mom, I couldn't stay awake for both.
“And the truth is, I loved the life we had built for our girls...I deeply loved the man I had built that life with...and I didn't want that to change if he became President.
“I loved Barack just the way he was.”
She spoke about how both her husband and she had been raised by families that did not have much money but gave “their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice, and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves.”
“My father was a pump operator at the city water plant, and he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when my brother and I were young,” recalled Obama.
“And even as a kid, I knew there were plenty of days when he was in pain...I knew there were plenty of mornings when it was a struggle for him to simply get out of bed.
“But every morning, I watched my father wake up with a smile, grab his walker, prop himself up against the bathroom sink, and slowly shave and button his uniform.
“And when he returned home after a long day's work, my brother and I would stand at the top of the stairs to our little apartment, patiently waiting to greet him...watching as he reached down to lift one leg, and then the other, to slowly climb his way into our arms.
“And as I got to know Barack,” she added, “I realized that even though he'd grown up all the way across the country, he'd been brought up just like me.
“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.”
“Like so many American families, our families weren't asking for much,” said Obama. “They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that, even if you don't start out with much, if you work hard and do what you're supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids.
“That's how they raised us...that's what we learned from their example.”
She said that “today, 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.”
As President, she added, “you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as President, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.
“So when it comes to rebuilding our economy, 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.
“That's why he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work.
“That's why he cut taxes for working families and small businesses and fought to get the auto industry back on its feet.
“That's how he brought our economy from the brink of collapse to creating jobs again – jobs you can raise a family on, good jobs right here in the United States of America.
“When it comes to the health of our families, Barack refused to listen to all those folks who told him to leave health reform for another day, another president.
“He didn't care whether it was the easy thing to do politically – that's not how he was raised – he cared that it was the right thing to do.
“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...and no one in this country should ever go broke because of an accident or illness.
“So when people ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character, and his convictions, and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago.”
Obama concluded her speech by saying, “Today, I know from experience that if I truly want to leave a better world for my daughters, and all our sons and daughters...if we want to give all our children a foundation for their dreams and opportunities worthy of their promise...if we want to give them that sense of limitless possibility – that belief that here in America, there is always something better out there if you're 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...my husband, our President, President Barack Obama.”