November 20th, 2007
01:20 PM ET
11 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. Brandon, Tampa, FL

    Rock on.

    November 20, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  2. Lee, Mays Landing NJ

    She is right. I'm not for Obama, I'd prefer Edwards, but there would be a few side benenefits to this country if Obama were elected. One is the foreign image – his wife is right.
    But perhaps most importantly is what it would do to young black men in this country. The "man" would be a black man, and instead of just sports heroes, or worse rappers glrifying the wrong things, you'd have role model of a different sort.
    The subtle cultural impact may have lost lasting and hugely beneficial consequences.

    November 20, 2007 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  3. Dave, Cheverly, MD

    Michelle said that to a mostly Black audience, because that group says they may NOT vote for Obama BECAUSE he is African American. They believe that WHITE Americans will not vote for him.

    Michelle is telling them vote from their hearts and minds for whomever they choose and don’t hold back a vote on those bases.
    Some of the World sees America as oppressors who say one thing and do another. Telling the World to get along, don’t be racist, sexist, religious battling. While at the same time doing just that her in our Country.
    As a bonus, Obama Presidency will shed a new perspective on that notion. It will get many of those doubtful Countries to sit up and take a fresh listen to what American has to say.

    She is NOT saying vote for Obama just for that reason. She is saying it happens to be a bonus. The same if a women, Mormon, Hispanic were the President.

    November 20, 2007 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  4. R. Smith, Fairborn, OH

    Hillary's an experienced leader? Two terms as First Lady and one and a half terms as a State Senator and people talk about her like she's a seasoned veteran? Amazing! With voter ignorance at an all time high, it's no wonder this country's run amuck!

    Posted By Mia Santiago : November 20, 2007 4:11 pm

    Voter ignorance? One needs only look at the current occupant of the WH to know what TRUE voter ignorance is...

    November 20, 2007 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  5. Fair,Washington DC

    Obama supporters need to say "I like Obama and I don't care about his experience or lack of experience. Period. Throwing his short experience record on this level,Preasident of the US is not impressing anyone thats not a supporter. I mean come on if there was a Politics101 course , that instructed on how to be a good politician, touting your experience would be one of the first things taught. Thats not even dirty politics, questioning a candidates experience is an actual legitimate issue in this climate of half truths and innuendos and spins on people words.

    November 20, 2007 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  6. Heather, Nashville, TN

    And America would be viewed differenly with a woman president. What happened to voting on the candidate themselves despite race, gender or even age. I personally look not to their skin but rather to their track record which is why I am voting Clinton in 08.

    November 20, 2007 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  7. Patrick, Denver CO

    To be fair Alan Keyes is also running.

    November 20, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  8. Daniel

    Hillary has my vote! I'm glad Barack keeps mentioning Hillary's name.

    Hillary all they, can't wait.

    November 20, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  9. Buggie, San Diego, CA

    Mrs. Obama,

    If you and your husband want to overcome the “challenge of inequality”, a good place to start would be to stop playing the race card in your husband’s campaign. I was under the impression that Mr. Obama was running for President of the United States, I did not realize he was running for Black President of the United States. Thank you for the clarification.

    November 20, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  10. Ernie. Truro, MA

    You have plenty of Washinton experience in the White House that along with Hillary Clinton's got us into the Iraq war. If you want more of the same old corporate culture and corruption, put the Clintons back in the White House. Or you can vote forjudgment,honesty and real change – Obama 08.

    November 20, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  11. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    ... Senator Clinton created a stir seeming to play
    the "gender card" .... now Obama seems to be playing the "race card." ... wonder if that will cause as big a stir ... we already ignore those playing the "Jesus card." ....

    November 20, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  12. Bryan Columbus, OH

    Yes...but Barack Obama is not the man to get that opportunity. He is NOT ready to lead this nation. Try for 2012 when you have actually been a politician with relevant experience. Come on people, you know who the right choice is.....HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT!!!!!!

    November 20, 2007 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  13. J. McKinney SW MO

    All these comments on Obama–honesty, integrity, compassion, intelligent, etc etc. Perhaps all this is true, and perhaps it isn't. I am wondering, since none of you posting this dribble, know him personally, where you are getting your information about him? I wonder if it is all what you are HOPING, and partially imagining. I haven't seen any evidence of it posted anywhere on the net. Let's try to stay with sensible things we actually know about. He probably is sincere, in his way, but inexperienced, hesitant, and often stumbling in his speeches. Lots of uh, uh. and Michelle seems to have quite a problem with the race issue. Quite a bit of beligerance there when she talks, also. I don't think either of them are ready for the white house, and the leader of the greatest nation in the world. They will be little lost kittens when the time comes to take over and run things.

    November 20, 2007 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  14. stclaire,San Diego

    Both are accomplished academians with diversed backround....what a gift for this generation and the generations to come. God Bless!

    November 20, 2007 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  15. Reuven, San Diego, CA

    I am a staunch Obama supporter, but i feel that Michelle Obama didn't need to say what she said. There is no need to bring race into the equation. No one should vote for a candidate because they think their race will make "America look at itself differently". I'm sure she means well, and she wants her husband to become president, but there was really no need to even mention that. A better thing to have said would have been that the fact that we have so many non-white candidates being considered for office is great. Then again, that wouldn't be "newsworthy".

    November 20, 2007 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  16. NOobomba

    The world will also look at this country differently with a female president.

    Posted By Dave, Foothill Ranch, California : November 20, 2007 2:11 pm

    and i think the us would look different with a black president
    there playing the race card .

    Im staying with Hillary the gopers are scared to death of her.

    and this is why i wont vote never for Obama
    Hey, but just because Novak served up "shamelessly unethical" and "unconfirmed crap" doesn't mean Mr. Obama should use it, right?

    Oh, and if you're wondering why I'm targeting Mr. Obama right now it's because his latest stunts are worthy of lambasting. Any Democrat using wingnuts to attack a fellow Democrat raises my suspicions. It further convinces me that Mr. Obama and his team have no dividing line and no party or Democratic policy loyalties (see Social Security), but only want to win as well as use Republican talking points to do it. It's further evidence that he will govern like a Joe Lieberman Democrat in the White House, to put it bluntly, seeing no party delineation at all, but preferring to bring anyone to his side he can, regardless of whether they will stab him in the back at the first oppportunity, not to mention make us compromise on policies we believe in strongly.

    Obama's latest behavior is not the politics of change, or making the case on ideas, in case anyone is paying attention. It's the old school politics of Chicago,

    I sont think he can be trusted.

    November 20, 2007 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  17. Trang, Fremont, CA

    I don't know much about Michelle, but I don't think her message is – vote for us because we are black, but race is no longer an issue for America. A person of any color/gender can be president as they demonstrate good leadership.

    Of course, each person has different qualifications for what leadership constitute – for me, it's a person who can inspire people, who can move people. It's difficult for one person to change this country, but if he/she can inspire many people to join the movement to change the world for the better, then he's a great leader.

    No doubt Hillary has connections and that is an asset, but I don't see she can move people as Obama can, and that's what counts.

    I would like to see the Obama presidency and see what changes he will bring. I would like to give him that opportunity.

    November 21, 2007 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  18. Jed in Texas

    Is it just me? Out of the 300,000,000 million people living in this country and this is all we can find to run for Office? Some of these folks from both parties are so phony, they couldnt get jobs as used car sales people.

    November 21, 2007 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  19. Celia NYU NY

    Go Obama Go, Win Obama Win!

    November 21, 2007 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  20. Calla, San Diego

    "Your comment is awaiting moderation. Due to the volume of comments we receive, not all comments will be posted."

    Go Obama Go, Win Obama Win!

    Posted By Celia NYU NY : November 21, 2007 1:51 am

    ____ What the above message really means is that if HRC doesn't like the tone or essence of this message then CNN will easily drop it from any chance of posting. Too bad CNN, you will find out soon enough how the woman won't cut it in this important race. (Sorry Celia)

    November 21, 2007 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  21. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Monte Brown, I am impressed by your logical comment. Age under 10, childhood memories have no connection with foreign policy as President, Obama's head is too big to trust. People who hate Hillary support Obama, their support is not developed by his political view or his qualification. I read thousands comments from Obama supporters, most of them are demagogic. None of Obama's supporters posted comments like yours. I am proud of you and I will stick with Hillary.

    November 21, 2007 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  22. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Mia Santago, two terms First Lady's experiences are bigger than 10 terms congressman, one and a half terms as New York Senator is deeper and wider than most of State Senators. IGNORANCE is suitable to you.

    November 21, 2007 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  23. Me, Atlanta, GA

    If you don't vote for Obama you clearly are a RACIST and an Islamic Bigot!

    November 21, 2007 05:15 am at 5:15 am |
  24. Benny Brown Jacksonville Fla.

    Sen. Barack, I did take a thought of voting for you. But, seeing how you play dirty politics, the question came to mind, Can you really be trusted. As a black male, I myself will not be voteing for you now.

    November 21, 2007 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  25. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    This harpy needs to go home and bake cookies. She never has anything intelligent to say. And again the race card.
    Sorry honey – affirmative action does not apply to the Presidency. We would hope that the oval office would be occupied by the best and brightest. Obama is really NOT it.

    November 21, 2007 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
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