September 14th, 2007
04:11 PM ET
15 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. Danielle Clarke

    I am a woman and college educated and a vietnam veteran and Barack Obama has my vote.

    I am tired of division politics. Bush blaming the left Clinton blaming the right while we all are getting BOUNCED from right to left and back to right and back left we need a UNITER like Barack who has worked across party lines with republican senator Coburn from oklahoma to give us the transpaernct bill which now allows us to see what politicians are doing and what lobbyist are giving to them.


    September 14, 2007 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  2. Danielle Clarke

    I am a woman and college educated and a vietnam veteran and Barack Obama has my vote.

    I am tired of division politics. Bush blaming the left Clinton blaming the right while we all are getting BOUNCED from right to left and back to right and back left we need a UNITER like Barack who has worked across party lines with republican senator Coburn from oklahoma to give us the transparency bill which now allows us to see what politicians are doing and what lobbyist are giving to them.


    September 14, 2007 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  3. Phyllis, Littleton, CO

    Go Michele! I love you! What a intelligent woman. I would hope people wouldn't be so shallow as to vote for anyone based on gender or race. How ignorant that would be, but then who voted our current President in office, not once,but twice. Obama has my vote because I feel he represents integrity, intelligence, and just plain common sense. Something GWB knows nothing about. Obama08!

    September 14, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  4. Mollie Hattiesburg, MS

    Oh good grief!! Mo from Chicago calling Obama a "beacon of light"???? Are you kidding me??? that is funny! And I assume you are calling Laura Bush a "stepford wife"? HARDLY her personality at all–she would have what we call here in the South,"CLASS"–which is something Michelle & Hillary are LACKING GREATLY & would never be able to attain even if they tried. The next thing we will see Michelle doing is snapping her fingers & acting an idiot w/ Oprah @ her side, and Hillary clapping...UGH!

    September 14, 2007 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  5. Kim Orange County CA

    I have not seen this many people from Hillary's campaign since she started paying 'em to "express opinion." Beyond Hillary's employees that are in this forum, let me simply say, MICHELLE IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT! When we've all had an opportunity to sleep on what she said, upon reflection we will have to agree with her comment. THIS COUNTRY IS AMERICA. We are not a country of Kings, Queens or Aristocrats. WE ARE AMERICANS, ALL, and let us be sober in how we choose our President this time. IF we are charged with owing a debt, it certainly is not Hillary to whom we should be indebted. Rather, it is to each other and to our children. We should feel indebted to one another, not to Hillary because she has lived long enough and married Wm. J. Clinton and now feels that it's her turn to be President. He had a turn, now it's her turn. Wait your turn! Do you hear how silly and childish that sounds? She simply IS NOT more qualified than Barack and NO, it simply is not "her turn" to be President.

    September 14, 2007 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  6. Lance in Monrovia, CA

    What Michelle Obama is getting at, is that in what is without a doubt the most important Presidential Election of this or any other time, we should judge each candidate on nothing but absolute character, judgement and experience. It should not be at all about dynasties, about labels such as "First woman" or "First Black" or anything else.

    This race should be sheerly about how is actually electable and who is actually going to bring this country out of the mud its trapped in and put us back on track to lead the world with honor, and gusto toward solving the many problems that are now facing us.

    Michelle Obama is obviously a woman of integrity and a person deeply concerned with the future of this country. Knowing that there is so much at stake, she's saying, basically, make the choice based on information, based on logic, based on common sense and ACTUAL electability. This is not a horse race, it is the HUMAN race that is at stake here. Literally.

    Anyone that actually starts investigating the candidates will realize that Barack Obama is not the best candidate for any reason other than HE IS. He has the most experience as a legislature and has spent the most and most recent time amongst his constituency, hands on, in a variety of ways. He's passed meaningful bipartisan bills on the environment, ethics, and infrastructure while Clinton and Edwards have talked a good game but done little to really effect the change they espouse.

    Obama also tells it as it is while the other candidates equivocate for fear of losing their position. Obama comes points out things that should be obvious to anyone paying attention, and so's so far more eloquently and passionately than we are used to seeing from politicians.

    Michelle Obama comes across to me as a woman of integrity, honesty and completely, totally unpolished. She, like her husband, is simply speaking in human, every day terms because, refreshingly, neither one of the two Obama's has been crushed into a walking soundbite by the political Washington beltway machine that some years ago crushed Hillary Clinton.

    When your words become so careful and your actions so calculated as Clinton's usually are, you are not a real human being, you are not an agent of change, you are simply an illusion of your former self.

    I pray to God that Michelle and Barack Obama never get to that point. Their experience and good judgement will serve this country well for many, many generations to come.

    Generations, I might add, that may never occur should any one else I see as having a legit shot at the White House gets into office.

    Get off your butts if you haven't been paying attention and start figuring out these candidates yourselves. Ignore everything else I've just said if you like, but I'd be willing to BET that once you delve in, once you actually see these people, including the Obamas, for more than the thirty second soundbites the media provides...

    You will be as impressed with Michelle and Barack Obama as I am.

    Obama, the President of both experience and good judgement, and the President that will bring us change in the same mold as FDR, JFK, and Abraham Lincoln.

    I'm not joking people, I really do believe he's a leader of that caliber, a great communicator, at long last...

    a great leader.

    Obama 08

    September 14, 2007 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  7. Michael, Woodland Hills, CA

    I haven't decided who I'm going to vote for in the primary, but Michelle Obama hasn't done or said anything to make me less inclined to support her husband. She seems like a strong, intellignet person. A good person. From what I've seen so far, America would be honored to be represented by her.

    September 14, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  8. Albert Friend, Maryville TN

    I agree - don't vote for Clinton just because she is a woman and don't vote for Obama because he is half white and half black (although he says little about the white half). Also be leery of voting for a candidate whose spouse doesn't know when to be quiet. Think of the problems the person will make if
    he/she become the spouse of the president.

    September 14, 2007 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  9. Roz, Montgomery, Alabama

    Michelle, you are right we need to vote for the best candidate and that is Barack Obama. All the other Democratic candidates voted for the war. I am sure if one of your family members died in this war you would not be voting for any of these other candidates. Their lives goes on because they have nothing to lose but my heart goes out to all the mothers and fathers who have loss their love ones and the soldiers to come who will lose their life over this dumb war, the wrong battlefield. Enough blood has been shed, enough lives have been loss, enough bodies have been disfigured and enough money has been spent. The others candidates cannot make a wrong to a right, cannot resurrect the dead.

    September 14, 2007 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  10. Rose Hann New London, CT

    Michelle Obama is correct. It is not about who's turn it is. However what eluded her was what it is about. Muchelle, it is about experience and no matter gender, the lady has it.
    I appreciate Mrs. Obama to be her husbands voice so he doesn't appear nasty, but, it makes Michelle appear nasty. I think she shot herslef in the foot by not saying what it is about. Tongue tied is my guess.

    September 14, 2007 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  11. David Samuel,NY

    I am sick and tired of hearing of Hillary's alleged experience. Where was this so-called experience when she voted to give GW unlimited power to create the worst human disaster in modern times. Hillary is the cause of the almost four thousand dead US soldiers in Iraq and the wastage of billions of taxpayers money. She is such a liar that it is troubling. It is her so-called experience that has now caused her to return $850,000 to Mr. SHU, the crook.
    Hillary is all for her self-greed,power,manipulative. But she will get the shock of her life come next year.

    September 14, 2007 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  12. Jen, Gainesville, FL

    She is definately right. It is nobody's turn, but the American people's turn to think carefully who is the best candidate for the president for at least another four years. Let's read and think. If you do read, she did not say that it is Obama's turn, either. The posted criticism about her is unffair.

    September 14, 2007 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  13. d.j. - springfield, il

    TRUTH UPDATE ! TRUTH UPDATE ! Barack Obama lucked out big time, not actually having competition in the Senate race, due to Jack Ryan's scandal (having taken his wife ot a strip club).

    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.

    September 14, 2007 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  14. Beth, Bremerton WA

    To all the women here telling Michelle to "shut her mouth," is that how you live your own lives? Do you teach your daughters to keep their opinions to themselves? Do your husbands make all the decisions? What are you even doing on a news site, worrying your pretty little heads about politics? Shouldn't you be barefoot and pregnant, baking your man a pie or something? Sheesh. Sexism sure is alive and well, especially among women.

    September 14, 2007 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  15. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Thank you Brian, TX. I couldn't stand with E and O couples. They are not enough materials for White House, not even Senators. Hillary Clinton's campaign is positive, clean, rightous, strong and powerful because The Clinton's are brilliant and experienced than rest of both party's candidates. We need Hillary Clinton to taking care of idiot Bush's mess. She is the only person can lead our country to the right direction.

    September 14, 2007 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |

    I cannot believe how gullible WE all are.Since when have EXPERIENCE BECOME A CRITERIA FOR THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY? You aquire the competency for this job with the grace thats comes with it once you are in office.What should get you in there is a vision, your ability to articulate that vision,communicate, sell IT,and get the AMERICAN PEOPLE TO OWN IT WITH YOU.What makes to you a great president is your ability to guide and lead the country to REALISE THAT VISION.

    September 14, 2007 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  17. Dan, TX


    September 14, 2007 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  18. Jean

    Michele said exactly the correct thing. No one should vote for anyone in an election just because it's someone's "turn". She did NOT say now it's a black man's turn. Please don't say she did.

    I laughed at the comment that actually John could medically become a woman in today's world. Actually the genome studies found that we ALL have had progenitors who started out in Africa AND after that the Middle East. So now John can be black and an Arab too, as can we all. Welcome to the famly of man. Obama in '08.

    September 14, 2007 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  19. Amy, FL

    I'm a reasonable Democrat. I think Bill Clinton was a great president. I think the mess in Iraq is this country's most important challenge, as well as our relationship with the moderate arab countries.

    I am a news/Cspan watcher on a daily basis, and am lucky enough to have my own practice where I can have the TV on during the day and hear the latest events or hearings.

    I am a bit concerned about the democratic "front runners" ALOT concerned.

    Hillary spoke loud and clear on the Senate floor just before the Senate voted to give Bush the authorization that amounted to war without a declaration. Who controls Hillary is my question. AIPAC maybe (sp)? That terrifies me.

    Obama seems like a good guy and I have no reason to think otherwise.

    But do either of these people have a clue how to handle the terrible mess in Iraq? I'm not feeling they do.

    And, I cringe as I write it, but Democrats must be the end of the day, is this country going to elect a woman that is hated (and shouldn't be) by a LOT of people? Woman + hated = long shot in this country.

    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? Sorry to be judgmental but truth is truth.

    I truly admire Hillary for her past life's work, and Obama for his vision, but can either one of these candidates win the general election?

    I will work for whomever the Democratic candidate ends up being. But, for the sake of this country, we have to be smart as an electorate and make sure we support a candidate that can cross party lines.

    I have not decided who will get my vote yet, but Joe Biden is more and more appealing. He is smart, knows what the hell to do with the Iraq tragedy, has ample experience in lawmaking, seems like the kinda guy I could have a beer with (hear that Bush fans? ), and is strong in character.

    Just food for thought.

    September 15, 2007 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  20. Juanito, Washington, DC

    I read Mrs Obama's comments 4 times, and I could not find anything there about race, so why are so many posters calling her a racist?

    Check yourselves, are showing YOUR true colors.

    September 15, 2007 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  21. Imani De la Perez

    Mrs. Obama is correct and she is not implying that it's Senator Obama's turn because he is black. The junior NYS senator has less experience than he does. What value is Clinton's experience when she voted for the war?

    Senator Obama demonstrated leadership and courage in opposing the war in 2002. He passed legislation to videotape police interrogations, he has co-sponsored legislation with Republican colleagues. Anyone who doesn't look at his website to read about his accomplishments is a fool. Of course that applies to all the candidates and stop allowing the media to interpret what someone said.

    Ms. Obama is like a breath of fresh air, because unlike wives in the past she is more than window dressing. The same can be said of Ms. Edwards.

    Senator Obama submitted his earmarks and Senator Clinton has not. He does not accept federal lobbyist or PAC money, Clinton thinks lobbyists are "real Americans'. Clinton is responsible for the outsources of jobs. (See

    We need a leader with good judgment, values, transparency, experience and a global perspective. Senator Obama has that and his wife is certainly an asset.

    September 15, 2007 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  22. J.V.Christopher Monterey CA

    As of my post,there are 181 comments on this story.
    A quick scan of all topics currently on today's Ticker reveals the next highest commentary on ALL topics at 20.
    Everything that's going on,and everybody wants to talk about who?
    Hey CNN,you may want to check this out.
    A reading thru of these comments might be quite revealing.
    There seems to be a high racist tilt to comments that are not typical of your site.
    Some posters are either biased 'trolls' or their Freudian Slips are showing.

    Lines such as;"America isn't ready for...."
    are red flags.The easy test is substitute Yourself for America.

    September 15, 2007 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  23. jaquan, la ca

    she needs to shut up, immediately.

    September 15, 2007 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  24. Bryant, West Carrollton, OH

    All of you who are going to vote for Obama, have you forgotten how he was raised?

    September 15, 2007 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  25. Carrington Ward

    "She should send a message to black voters and tell them not to cast their vote in 2008 based on the fact that he is "black" "

    As a response, check out Andrew Sullivan's blog and his mention of Obama's Selma speech:

    My favorite moment was a very simple one. He referred to the anniversary of the March on Selma, how he went and how he came back and someone (I don't remember who now) said to him:

    "That was a great celebration of African-American history."
    To which Obama said he replied:

    "No, no, no, no, no. That was not a great celebration of African-American history. That was a celebration of American history."


    Black voters have sent a message to Obama that he can't take their vote for granted. This is part of the reason that Michelle is taking an increasing role - the Obama campaign have been listening to this message and working to build that political base.

    But NB, the Obama campaign is under no illusions that he can win the presidency on the basis of the black vote, particularly in today's immigrant society.

    It's worth playing much closer attention to the racial politics of this race: it is fascinating how much things have changed.

    September 15, 2007 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
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