DNC: Meet the Obamas | VailDaily.com

DNC: Meet the Obamas

Erin FrustaciFort Collins CorrespondentVail CO, Colorado
Eric Bellamy/Fort Collins NowMichelle Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention in Denver Monday night.

DENVER, Colorado Michelle Obama sent a message of family values, hard work and the American story during her keynote speech on opening night at the Democratic National Convention Monday.I come here tonight as a sister blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector and my lifelong friend, Michelle Obama said. I come as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president. I come here as a mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world.As the keynote speaker for the first night, Michelle Obama introduced her family, their background and the things they believe in most to American voters.Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say youre going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you dont know them, and even if you dont agree with them, she said. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our childrenand all children in this nationto know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.John Straayer, political science professor at Colorado State University, said her message was just a start and will be carried through the whole campaign.It was a start in trying to make the electorate familiar with and comfortable with both Barack and Michelle Obama as people, he said. The task was to and continues to be to tell the storythat its an American success story.In terms of delivery, Straayer said she was almost flawless.Pam Shaddock, an alternate delegate from Greeley, said she appreciated seeing Michelle Obama talk more personally.I was thrilled to see her in a more human way than what weve seen before, she said. It was the first time we have gotten to know her more personally and I think she came across as someone we would like to know.Michelle Obamas older brother, Craig Robinson, introduced her, and shared childhood memories of playing basketball and growing up together. Robinson recalled how Michelle would wake him up early on Christmas morning, and how she memorized every single episode of the Brady Bunch.When the candidates wife took the podium, the seats in the Pepsi Center became a sea of narrow blue signs emblazoned with Michelles name. During her speech, Michelle spoke about her father who was a blue-collar city worker and died from complications after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She talked about Baracks background and how he was raised by his grandparents.Michelle Obama was born on the south side of Chicago. After graduating from Harvard Law School, she returned to Chicago to work for the Sidley & Austin law firm. After realizing that corporate law was not her calling, she left to serve the city she had always loved. She eventually became the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares young people for public service. She married Barack Obama in 1992. The couple has two daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.Anderson said Michelles speech resonated with people because it was an American story.In speaking about her husband, Michelle Obama said he is a man who knows what fairness, justice and opportunity look like. She highlighted many of the things he did while working in the Illinois Senate.Its what hes done in the Illinois Senate, moving people from welfare to jobs, passing tax cuts for hardworking families and making sure women get equal pay for equal work.She added that he wants to end the war in Iraq responsibly, build a better economy and make health care more accessible. Thats why he is running, she said.And in the end, after all thats happened these past 19 months, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago, She said. Hes the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital 10 years ago this summer, inching along at a snails pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything hed struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her what he never had: The affirming embrace of a fathers love.Paul Anderson, a delegate from Fort Collins, said he sat in his seat for four hours straight during the convention.The energy was phenomenal, he said.

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