September 14th, 2007
04:11 PM ET
16 years ago

Michelle Obama: It's not about 'whose turn it is'

Michelle Obama with daughter Malia at the Iowa State Fair last month.

(CNN) - Michelle Obama has a message for women voters: Don't cast your vote in 2008 based on "whose turn it is."

“We are working hard to ensure to the women of America that Barack Obama is who we need," Ms. Obama said of her husband on CBS's "The Early Show" Friday.

"You know, some women just feel like, that it's a woman's turn," she added, regarding Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton." And people have said….that they just feel like, you know, it's Hillary's turn. That, I reject because democracy isn't supposed to be about whose turn it is."

Her comment is the latest from the spouse of a Democratic candidate directed at Clinton and other top rivals. In a Salon interview in July, Elizabeth Edwards said her husband John Edwards would be a better choice for women voters.

“[Clinton] is just not as vocal a women’s advocate as I want to see. John is,” she said.

Mrs. Edwards, in an interview with Ziff Davis Media published last month, also said, “We can't make John black, we can't make him a woman. Those things get you a certain amount of fundraising dollars."

- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk

soundoff (219 Responses)
  1. Checkpoint Charlie, Chappaqua, NY

    MO says don't vote based on "whose turn it is." Isn't that the basis for affirmative action; whose turn it is?

    With an unqualified woman (Mrs. Clinton) and an unqualified man (Mr. Obama) grabbing for the ring, whoever the Dems pick will be an affirmative action candidate.

    Do we really want our next president to be the affirmative action selection?

    September 15, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  2. Carrington Ward, Queens, NY

    "And can this country actually elect a man, Obama, based on his qualities and overlook his race?

    Here is the thing, and think about it Dems, this country voted Bush in TWICE. Get the mentality? How can we overcome that mentality that still persists, the dumbed down? "

    - Amy

    Good point Amy. Note that Obama has tried to answer your question with two pithy soundbytes, one cute, and one serious:

    "Got Hope?"


    "This is not who we are."

    The first one I can take or leave. The last one 'made the sale' for me.

    I spent a lot of time talking to voters in '04, a lot of time talking to people who would vote for Kerry, and a lot of time talking to people who would, unfortunately, vote for Bush.

    When Obama says "this is not who we are," I believe he is right.

    September 15, 2007 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  3. Michael James - Illinois

    There have been a few comments posted about how Barack was raised, presumably trying to raise fears and doubts based on some of the slime thrown his way by political hacks or people who had been badly misinformed.

    If you know Barack's story, it is nothing at all to be ashamed of or to hide and the information is out there for all to know if they want.

    He did attend school in Indonesia, but it was a normal school, as noted in the CNN report linked and excerpted below:

    CNN dispatched Senior International Correspondent John Vause to Jakarta to investigate. He visited the Basuki school, which Obama attended from 1969 to 1971.

    "This is a public school. We don't focus on religion," Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the Basuki school, told Vause. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment."

    Vause reported he saw boys and girls dressed in neat school uniforms playing outside the school, while teachers were dressed in Western-style clothes.

    "I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa ... like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Vause said on the "Situation Room" Monday. "I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that."

    Vause also interviewed one of Obama's Basuki classmates, Bandug Winadijanto, who claims that not a lot has changed at the school since the two men were pupils. Insight reported that Obama's political opponents believed the school promoted Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Islam, "and are seeking to prove it."

    "It's not (an) Islamic school. It's general," Winadijanto said. "There is a lot of Christians, Buddhists, also Confucian. ... So that's a mixed school."

    Obama has noted in his two books, "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope," that he spent two years in a Muslim school and another two years in a Catholic school while living in Indonesia from age 6 to 10.

    September 15, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. stan pitts p.a

    America need not fear change, its good all these years the lies and media deception, America should be sick and tired of the same ole crap, the republicans if they had any moral back bone should have had bush impeached by now, he lied about the war, a good 75% of anything bush has ever said is a lie, the republicans should cower in shame that they ever nominated somelike bush to mislead the whole country and take the country down a very dangerous path, and yes we should not attack iran, too costly and only if we absolutely have to, i dont think all diplomacy has failed in this regard, a vote for thomson, or clinton is just gonna give us more of the same, i say lets give a barack a shot, and see if in his first 100 days in office we dont start to see a light at the end of the tunnel, no country really wants to go to war and risk the lives of its citizens for nothing, lets get these hostile countries to the table again, i bet all they need is someone reasonable like obama in power.

    September 15, 2007 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. Lee, NE PA


    You're extremely annoying!

    Go have tea with your new best friend Oprah!

    September 15, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. Michael James - Illinois

    Another thing!

    I guess d.j from Springfield, il did not respond directly to my previous response about experience and accomplishments, but is still trying to tear down Barack Obama’s record.

    Dj may continue to refuse to join team Obama, but in order that no one reading this comment log will be confused, I am responding to dj’s post that said “…Obama lucked out big time, not actually having competition in the Senate race, due to Jack Ryan's scandal…Barack won by default, so he's lucky not experienced; he's lucky, but hasn't excelled at anything; he's lucky but not anywhere near the best person for the Presidency.”

    Dj, dj, dj. You must not have read my previous post about Barack’s experience. He does have experience and has excelled. You don’t get to be editor of the Harvard Law Review or to where he is today by not being excellent. I think I thoroughly addressed the experience issue already, so I won’t repeat here and, instead, move on to the concerns about luck that you raised. I will preface by saying that Barack certainly has enjoyed certain lucky breaks, but he would not be where he is today if luck was the only factor.

    Barack definitely benefited from the Jack Ryan scandal and the Republicans shooting themselves in the foot by running Alan Keyes in the general election, but let’s not forget that few people thought Barack would make it out of the Democratic primary field. There were some serious people in that race.

    Barack was mostly unknown outside of his State Senate district, and he was competing against State Treasurer Dan Hynes (who was the candidate favored by the Chicago Democratic Machine), Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, former Richard M. Daley aide Gerry Chico, and investment banker Blair Hull, who, as a well-connected millionaire, had very deep pockets.

    Barack was endorsed by the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, but he won because of the hard work he did, his leadership skills and inspiring persona. I believe there were seven candidates in that primary race, yet, instead of winning with a mere plurality, Obama won more support than the other six candidates combined, earning 52% of the vote, fueled by an overwhelming victory in Chicago and surrounding Cook County. That, my friend, is decidedly not luck. He “had the goods” first, which is why he made it to the general election and subsequently benefited from the implosion of Jack Ryan.

    Even if Ryan had not dropped out of the race, there is strong evidence to suggest that Obama would have won anyway. Ryan trailed Obama in early polls, with Obama opening up a 20-point lead after the media reported that Ryan had assigned Justin Warfel, a Ryan campaign worker follow Obama's movements 24 hours a day, recording everything Obama did in public on videotape. Warfel also heckled Obama by yelling questions at him in public. The tactic backfired when many people, including Ryan's supporters, criticized this activity. It was only after this point that the lawsuit brought to light the issue of what was in Ryan’s divorce papers and the sex club allegations. That was the final nail in Ryan’s campaign coffin, but he was likely to lose even without this issue surfacing.

    You can live in denial if you so choose, but the facts are the facts.,_2004

    September 15, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  7. Andrew, Niagara Falls, New York

    I am highly amused by the shear oprah hate that so many on these comment boards seem to have. Just imagine if she runs for office in the near future, that would surely make the GOP base fume eh?

    September 15, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  8. Rich, Mansfield, MA

    "Michelle, shut up, it's not Obama's turn either… we need a Senior Leader in the "White House" not a Jr. Senator.

    Posted By Atlanta, Georgia : September 14, 2007 12:25 pm"


    Excuse me ? Who are you in Atlanta, GA ? You didn't even have the courage to post your first name.

    I'm a guy and I would never tell anyone to "shut up", especially a woman.

    Have some manners please.

    September 15, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  9. Robert M. Reidy N.Y.

    Remember what Lincoln said about fooling people.

    Hillary has fooled you about the experience debate!!!

    Barak Obama has the facts and the truth on his side, he is creatively biding time.

    Don't play the fool, folks!

    The winds of change are blowing and the
    whispering wind says Barak... Barak Obama... Vote for change America....

    September 15, 2007 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  10. dawn -- Gaithersburg, MD.

    The Obamas are really great at creating straw men. Who are these mythical women who support Sen. Clinton just because they feel it's a woman's turn. This comment foolishly alienates people of both genders who incline toward Sen. Clinton but still have an open mind. It's condescending, ill-informed, and not what I expect from people running on the "politics of hope." It confirms in my mind why the Obamas aren't ready for prime-time.

    September 15, 2007 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  11. kyle mccaskill, beacon, ny

    Does Experience Matter? (Clinton and JFK didn't think so)

    This Video Is Showing That Obama can be president because two fmr presidents were
    where he is right now, lessons prove experience makes an either worse president( nixon, bush, vp dick cheney, defense sec.rumsfeld)

    September 15, 2007 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  12. Murphy, Los Angeles CA

    Michelle Obama is as brilliant and inspiring as her principled husband, and she's right on that we ought to be choosing the candidate who has the most to offer our great nation. I for one am a Feminist with a capital F and I wish with all my might that I supported Hillary. But it's Barack who has my vote because I want to see the country not just turn the page but open an entirely new book on how Washington represents us. I want to be inspired and I want to see us get past divisive politics. We can have a government that represents us, that listens to us, that tells us what's really happening, not just what the corporations want us to hear, not just what politicians think we want to hear. The notion that we should be electing someone just because they assumed they'd be next ignores the fact that the country wants and needs fundamental change. Barack Obama is the answer to what's plagued America with cynicism and Michelle knows this, has recognized it since she first watched him in action as a community organizer 20 years ago. If you don't want a black president or a woman president, don't vote for someone with black skin or ovaries, but don't think you speak for all of America and don't pretend to yourself that you're being honorable.

    It's time for us to be a great nation again and elect a president who has great ideas and great vision and great judgment. It's time to end our small politics. Barack knows this, Michelle knows this, and I and hundreds of thousands of other Obama supporters know this.

    September 15, 2007 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  13. J. McKinney Halfway, Mo

    Talking about the spouses of candidates, I have been extremely impressed by the future "first Laddie" Bill Clinton. Has anyone noticed that he has had nothing derogatory to say about the other democrats running against Hillary? He only talks about her good qualifications and what she has accomplished, not running down the others.
    I for one am getting sick of the ugly and sometimes really...well, frankly, stupid comments from Edwards and Obama's wives attacking Hillary. I don't seem to ever see them saying what good things their husbands have done, only that they are "for" this and that, but not what they have actually accomplished.
    And, are Barack and Michelle legally married? She is constantly referred to as Ms.? Just curious.


    September 16, 2007 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  14. Jon, San Diego, CA

    This is officially out of control. Americans are voting without knowing the issues once again.

    Why is there so much support for Barack Hussein Obama? Is it because he's a breath of fresh air (not according to his wife) and he's bringing an outsider's perception of change to Washington? We've heard that line before.

    No. There are a lot of democratic voters out there who can't see passed what the media is constantly feeding to them. They hear about Obama being hailed as a new, "young" voice in politics. The JFK or Lincoln of his time! But the truth is that he is alarmingly unqualified, he's misleadingly power-hungry, and ignorant on international affairs.

    What are his qualifications to be President of the U.S.?
    1) Political science major. So he learned how to B.S. people.
    2) Harvard. Forget college–Bush went to Yale, enough said.
    3) Illinois State Senator. Ok.
    4) U.S. Senator - He hasn't even completed his first term yet. How does that sound?

    And that's it! So why does he have so much support? He and Hillary are novelty items just like Howard Dean was in 2004. Neither can be elected in a general election and their supporters must realize that or we'll be seeing a lot of Giuliani in 2009.

    Do the rest of us serious democrats a favor and look beyond the novelties and the media's hype that we may see the "first black president" and the "first female president" ever. Let's cast our votes based on real qualifications and genuine experience, not on who wins the Flavor of the Day award (Obama) or who gets away with the Most Evasive Politician of the Year (Hillary).

    If you still don't understand my advice, just pretend that your vote will impact your immediate life and the lives of your children and grandchildren. You know... think and vote like a serious adult for once. The results may surprise you.

    September 16, 2007 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  15. Hannah, Philadelphia

    Whenever Michelle opens her mouth, she offends someone–if not her "stinky" husband, whom I happen to think is inspiring–then the intellegince of women whon she deems will only vote for Hillary because "she a woman". Sorry, Michelle, we've not that shallow, and you don't need to tell us whose turn it is. Your are a tiring, arrogant, passive-agressive and holier than thou nag. You think your a strong woman, but I see you as mean-spirited and insecure, espscially toward your husband. I don't know how he can stand you.

    September 17, 2007 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  16. Tina, Philadelphia, PA

    Before Michelle opened her big mouth, I was in support of Barack Obama running for president. He sounds very intelligent and confident and he's tall. His proposed strategies just may work. I don't see how Barack Obama can stand his wife either. I'm surprised that he passively accepts her domination and he is running for president. Do we want a man for president that is so obviously whipped by his wife to make crucial decisions for the people? She seems to be so possessive. If Obama were to become president and a female citizen needed his help on any matter, then undoubtedly, Michelle would jump in with jealousy and maybe even cause problems that would cancel out any help and would make matters worse. But only if the female citizen was fairly nice looking, educated and most significantly, single. Even more so if the citizen didn't have a family background and a big brother. Michelle may very well get a warped view of her husband helping anyone and mistake it as being some sort of competition. She may even jade her husband's viewpoint with some negative garbage and poof! there goes a disaster. Michelle is a highly educated woman earning a high salary of six figures. She's also a lawyer and lawyers are supposed to know how to use words. Surely she knows what she is saying. She apparently also knows that her husband, Barack Obama will accept her denigrating remarks. She knows and everyone else knows that he is just a man. She must not have given him her permission to run for president and she is deliberately punishing him. She must think that she is his golden goose. With a great wife, Barack Obama would well become the next president. However, Michelle's remarks are way over the line of social decorum. We don't want such a woman as First Lady.

    September 27, 2007 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  17. ansalan, rockville, MD

    I couldn't agree more with Kay. It is as if Michelle Obama is jealous or something. What kind of woman purposely sabotages her husband!! His campaign managers must be imbeciles or they would muzzle her. She needs to learn to choose her words carefully, and better yet, not speak to the media. She is an embarrassment to all women.

    November 13, 2007 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. George Russell

    Americans,do not be sentimental about electing your president next year.
    You need some one very intelligent to manage the affairs of USA.Someone to truely revive the U.S Economy which the George Bush administration messed up as a result of his war projects in the Middle east which only created wealth for him and his friends in the Reublican.
    For now Obama Barack is your best product for the presidency.Clinton Hilary cannot fit it now as U.S President because she does not have the critical management ability to balance the U.S Economy and the security of USA and the rest of the world.Mark you,Hilary Clinton is not Bill Clinton.The fact that she has been in the white house does not translate that she will be a good president.
    This is why Obama Barak is most suitable for the job of a president for now.
    Obama will riggle U.S out from the war in the middle east which has affected the U.S Economy greatly and at the same stabilise the Economy and security of U.S.
    But if the U.S presidency is for gamble then Clinton Hilary or Another person from Republican will continue from where bush stopped and the Country will be worse for it.
    It is therefore became imperative that all American's should waive racism in this presidential election by electing competence and that competence is Obama Barack.

    December 18, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. Jimmy Alani

    Obama is smart, but he is an African American. He would make the best American president for he knows the pains of being the minority race in America and at the same time he knows the shortfalls which comes with the pride of being the majority tribe in America. Had Obama been a purely white individual he could have taken the lead in the presidential elections very easily. If America could burry racisim totally I hope Obama would be given a chance to change the American politics for the better because America is what it is not out of wars but its technological supemacy and economic might. Obama with a face which may not be with a face agreeable to most Amaricans is the right person to promote this agenda. Wars will cause a lot of resentment to the American ideals. To expand the American dreams may require an unusual idividual like Obama. I am praying that all the Americans should forget the black in Obama and only focus on the white in him. To me Obama has brought in the most intelligent suggestion and I pray the he should be given the chance to implement them. Althogh he is of a black origin Obama if not in any way a war monger.

    January 16, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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