November 20th, 2007
01:20 PM ET
6 years ago

Michelle Obama says America will be viewed differently with a black president

Sen. Obama and his wife, Michelle, in February 2007 when he announced his White House bid.

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina (CNN) – Michelle Obama told an audience Tuesday that electing an African-American president will challenge America to "look at itself differently.”

"Imagine our family on that inaugural platform," she said. "America will look at itself differently. The world will look at America differently. There is no other candidate who is going to do that for our country. You know that."

Obama was campaigning on behalf of her husband, Sen. Barack Obama, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama told the audience at the historically black South Carolina State University that she and her husband realize there are doubts among black Americans about whether an African-American can win a presidential election. But she called those fears "the bitter legacy of racism and discrimination and oppression in this country."

"We would never entered this race if we were not confident that America was ready," she said. "We're not crazy."


The Princeton and Harvard law school graduate paraphrased Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in describing her husband, saying he should be president "not because of the color of his skin, but because of the quality and consistency of his character."

"Imagine a president of the United States who actually has experience working with people on the ground," she said, referring to her husband’s background as a community organizer in Chicago. Obama said this background gives her husband the experience to confront racial disparities in income, health care and education.

"Inequality is not a burden we have to accept, it is a challenge we must overcome," she said, explaining that she herself overcame "voices of doubt and fear" about her race to now accept the challenge of possibly becoming first lady.

"I'm asking you to stop settling for the world as it is, and to help us make the world as it should be," she said.

– CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. John, Detroit, Michigan

    way to have your spouse play the race card, obama. weren't you just criticizing Bill for saying "boys" at a speech a week or so back?

    November 20, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. John Cherry Hill, NJ

    You want to see Republicans unite behind a candidate? They'd come out in droves to support Ron Paul if it meants keeping Obama out of the White House...and Dave, 'secondly' is not a word.

    November 20, 2007 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. tiredofitall

    Im ready to vote for a black person, just not this one, how bout Condi Rice, she would be a GREAT president. I believe Mrs. Obama is pushing more people away with these comments. It sounds as it is a test to see who is racist and who isnt, sorry michelle just because I wont vote for this black man, doesnt mean Im a racist, and not ready to have a black president. Thanks for making it an issue though

    November 20, 2007 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. Monte Brown

    Hillary Clinton is not running for president as a woman. She is running for president because she is the most qualified candidate, the most experienced candidate and she is ready to lead on day one. Obama should not pull the race card. I am a black man and I support Hillary because I don’t use race or gender as a factor when deciding who is qualified to lead. Hillary’s plans sound more effective and definite than Obama’s, plain and simple. The American people will not use race or gender as a factor in this election because Americans know what they need to do to take their country back from the reactionaries. We must stand strongly behind the candidate who will take the reactionaries down and send their self-righteous, indignant, hypocritical ideology into the abyss.

    Is Michelle talking about changing the world? A woman was savagely raped and prosecuted by the law in Saudi Arabia. Women are underrepresented in world politics. If the reactionaries get the opportunity to appoint Supreme Court Justices, Roe v. Wade will be reversed. The problems that face black people can be dealt with and reversed with or without a black president. We need to protect a woman’s right to choose. We need to send a message to those countries that infringe upon a woman’s rights and their mobility.

    I am a black American, but quite often I feel that black people are their own enemies. Sure we are the most hated race on the planet, and there is no denying that. Yes, the world needs to stop hating black people. Yes, employers need to stop looking for petty reasons for not hiring qualified black people. At the same time black people need to be more united and focused on their goals. We need to look at our problems and get to the heart of the matter instead of being pessimistic and complacent. We are very able people. We can close the education gap in America. We can build social democracies in the mother land. We can fight for better legislation in America that guarantees us equal treatment and protection under the law in America. We can feed every hungry child in the mother land. We need unity, compassion and resourcefulness among ourselves. We don’t really need a black president to bring forth rapid change. We can’t change how people feel about black people. People are always going to hate black people no matter who is in the White House. Why do you think Dr. King marched to Washington D.C.? Change is within us.

    We should stick with Hillary because she can beat the right wingers.

    November 20, 2007 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    Another step towards ending divisiveness in this country is to stop using the hyphenated names such as African-American. When are we going to call everyone "Americans", without distinction?

    I'm a fan of Senator Obama, but I think that anyone who votes for him simply based on his (half) race, or for Hillary simply based on her gender shouldn't be qualified to vote. It's just as dumb and ignorant as Christian voters only voting for a cadidated because he/she professes to be closer to God....uh...their particular god.

    American stupidity has given us Bush for two terms. American stupidity is on display on the Ticker each and every day. Check the post on Bush pardoning turkeys for an example (and I'm a "liberal")!

    November 20, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Laura - Tulsa OK

    Before she starts envisioning herself and her family on the dias, why don't we look at the track record of Obama. There's not much that would indicate leadership qualities. Instead of first eliminating the waste that's already taking millions of taxpayers' dollars, Obama just asks for more and more taxes . If that's any indication of his financial abilities, he's NOT good Presidential material.

    November 20, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. jack, ny, ny

    Oh so who is playing a card here.....again that mouse Obama. This guys is complete hypocrit. He was accusing HIllary for gender card. what about him trying to put race card. I guess he is forgetting that it is about running the country not about race.
    go back home

    November 20, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  8. E.D.

    With all due respect I must disagree with Claudette from Texas. Any revolution starts with each individual. The more we accept the status quo the more things will remain the same. We alone, a vote at a time are responsible and have the power to initiate change. Agains all odds we must have the courage to go against the grain and accept the consequences like adults. I tell you....CHANGE WILL HAPPEN ONLY IF WE AS HUMAN BEINGS STAND FOR WHAT WE REALLY BELIEVE IN. WE MUST RESIST BEING LOOKED AT AS JUST NUMBERS TO BE MANIPULATED BY THE POWERS THAT BE.

    November 20, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. Titus, St. Louis MO

    The so called “experienced politicians” have done nothing but miserably fail us time and time again. Experience does not translate into good judgment. It is high time this country get a new pair of glasses. - Obama 08’

    November 20, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  10. Dan, Albany NY

    If I was married to a surgeon it does not qualify me to perform operations. Hillary was married to the President. She was never President. She was elected to the Senate 4 yrs before Obama and is also the junior senator from her adopted state. All the Hillary lovers saying that Obama doesn't have experience. Nonsense. He has been an elected official longer than her and has a list of legislative accomplishments longer than hers. Wake up Democrats. The Clintons are playing word games again.

    November 20, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. xtina - chicago IL

    Both her and Barack make grand proclamations that sound good; in fact, you can't really disagree with a lot of what these two say (well, expect the "I m entitled to raise taxes" thing). But Obama doesn't have executive experience, has never run a business, and has only shown leadership if you consider leadership to be raising taxes for more entitlement programs.

    November 20, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  12. Independent in IA

    Michelle needs to learn to keep her fat mouth shut!!! If anybody votes for Obama simply because he's black, they're fools to the "Nth" Degree. We need an experienced CAPABLE individual in the White House, not somebody who is going to have to constantly muzzle his wife because of her loose-lip attitude.

    November 20, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. thetraveler

    We are a strong and diverse country. One that should not concern itself with the opinion of this world's racists and bigots. Their opinions are clearly selfserving and not something we should pin our accomplishments to..

    November 20, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  14. Independent in IA

    Michelle Obama is confident America is ready....I'm so happy for her. Thank goodness for common sense – being black does not make inexperience credible, and spending 4 years in Southeast Asia as a child of 6 to 10 certainly does not give insight to foriegn policy.

    November 20, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. Summer, Provo, UT

    Obviously, Sen. Obama has so little experience that all they can resort to is "vote for us because the world will see the U.S. differently." Are you sure? And does it matter what the world thinks of us if our president ends up running us into the ground? Please, Mrs. Obama, give us a little more credit than high school campaign tactics.

    November 20, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  16. karen, orlando

    Although I like Obama and I will most likely vote for him in the primary. This kind of campaigning is really upsetting to see. Michelle is completely wrong to use the race card. If Obama wins it should be based on his merit and not the color of his skin. Michelle is too quick to point out race when it is used against her husband, she can't have it both ways.

    November 20, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. LB, Atlanta, GA

    It is time for a change – a big change and Obama would be a great example for an America of change. Of course, anything is an improvement over what we got !

    November 20, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  18. DMW, Roeland Park, KS

    I am a black female, and I love myself. I do get upset when other black people feel we MUST stick together and if we choose to do something else, then we have a personal problem with being black.

    Obama complained and complained that Hillary was playing the gender card. Now, it is alright for him and his wife to play the race card??? I think not!

    My vote is for Hillary.

    November 20, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  19. Reuben Goldenstein, Dahlgren VA

    While Barack Obama seems a likely winner in the race for the Democratic Nomination, I doubt he will be able to win in the general election. But in the unlikely event he does get elected, it will do very little to undue the rascism displayed every day across the country and around the world. In the end the people who hate America, will still hate America.

    November 20, 2007 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. RuthieM

    "Inequality is not a burden we have to accept, it is a challenge we must overcome,"

    Great and truthful quote from Mrs. Obama. OBAMA '08!

    November 20, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. J. Schmidt

    She's correct on that point. We will be viewed as having finally hit rock bottom.

    November 20, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  22. Mark Billingsley, Sacramento , Calif.

    "I agree that Obama would make a great president after about 8 years more experience. He should get some international experience serving on a serious committee, solve some problems abroad etc. He should also broaden his views by supporting a church that doesn't exclude other races."

    Wow...where to start? How about at the top.? Obama is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. That high-up enough for you? International experience? How about living in a foreign country during his childhood? He tried to solve the Iraq War but his bill was shot down by Bush and his cronies because it set forth a timeline for withdrawal. He did author and passed a nuclear non-proliferation bill that helps assure that loose nukes don't fall into the hands of terrorists. That's not good enough for you? And to the others who keep pushing the GOP mantra that he doesn't have any executive leadership...that's crap and you know it. There's been plenty of great presidents in our nation's history who had no executive experience (Washington, JFK, Lincoln to name a few) What is needed is sound judgment and conviction. And Obama's church does not exclude other races. Where the F did you get that idea? Does it happen to be in a predominantly black area of Chicago? Yes. So what? Every video I've seen of his church showed that there were white people in the pews. Not a lot, but some. I'd bet that's a lot more diversity at his church than you see in a lot of Southern Baptist churches.

    November 20, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  23. stan pitts p.a

    Americans need and deserve a president who will tell them the truth the first time and always, obama has enough experience and a good political team to make sound judgements in the white house as president, he has enough experience to lead this country as long as he continues to surround himself with a lot of respected and experienced foreign relations experts, good judgement and genuine love and care for the american people is what this country desperately needs and obama is the man!!! we need to go back to caring and looking after our own people especially our vets obama 08!!!

    November 20, 2007 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. Tevin, Raleigh NC

    I totally agree! It is time! I'm happy Mrs. Obama is not afraid to approach the subject of race. And she did it without playing the so called "race card". I'm pleased she doesn't just pretend race plays no part in her husband's race just to make people comfortable. I love it. Mr. Obama's the best choice, "not because of the color of his skin, but because of the quality and consistency of his character." His judgement is unmatched. His experience working with the people and for the people will serve him well, much more than Hilary's waking up next to Bill.

    November 20, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  25. Seam, Philly PA

    It's too bad this blog will be filled with negative comments about Michelle Obama. I see it coming now.........People always take things out of context.

    November 20, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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