June 19th, 2008
06:52 AM ET
14 years ago

Michelle Obama to get unprecedented campaign team

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/18/art.michelleobama.ap.jpg caption="Michelle Obama will be surrounded by a team of veteran aides."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is planning to beef up the team surrounding his wife Michelle Obama, to give her the kind of professional campaign veterans experienced in rapid response to negative attacks – the kind of staff that is usually only seen around an actual candidate, according to a senior aide.

The move is meant to address concerns within the campaign that Michelle Obama will be the target of significant attacks from conservatives this year. Their pre-emptive response is a team that one aide says is unprecedented in presidential politics. According to multiple aides, this team will work with Mrs. Obama to modify her stump speech - in part to include more stories from the voters she met during the primary season - in a bid to counter criticism by some conservatives that she is out of touch.

Former Kerry campaign Communications Director Stephanie Cutter has already been tapped as Mrs. Obama’s chief of staff, and additional staff will be hired in the coming weeks.

Aides say they expect Mrs. Obama to make occasional campaign stops over the next several weeks - including roundtables with military wives, and a womens’ event next week – before hitting the trail full time around July 4.

Michelle Obama has already become a target on the Web, with ads and e-mail rumors that criticize her as unpatriotic, elitist, and angry.

But the campaign says Mrs. Obama is a net positive on the trail. For every conservative turned off by her message, they say, there are voters - especially women – who are drawn to her husband’s campaign, which describes her as the best surrogate he has.

Filed under: Michelle Obama • Popular Posts
soundoff (182 Responses)
  1. Oregon calling

    There are several of us that couldn't agree with Michelle more. She seems to be a strong and capable woman that would serve the United States proud. Just remember that you have friends here on the West coast. Blessed be............
    Obama 08

    June 18, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  2. Kim

    From Ali

    Haha!! can't wait until the "whitey" video hits the internet.

    Let's see what Osama has to say about that!!!

    Ali, you idiot. The truth is out about that fake video. In the video, Michelle clearly says " Why did he" ! Not Whitey. Shallow nasty people clutching desperatly at anything to demean the Obama's.

    June 18, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  3. xddy4u

    One thing for sure, she is a working woman. You don't pull down six figures being dumb. She's making a living the old fashion way, she's earning it. Now what's wrong with that? As for those that will be surrounding her, this is stragety of the highest order. Don't give the enemy no ammo. Michelle is smart enough to be her husband's VP. She's one smart cookie. They are doing the right thing with her, helping her shed off some of that CEO toughness that was required in her secular job. Michell all the way.

    June 18, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  4. Loretta from California

    Thanks CNN FOR THIS STORY. It nice to have a story without all of the negativity.

    Those who are critical of Michelle Obama will always be critical of her. It really doesn't matter what she says or does. So be yourself Michelle, and try not to worry about what others think of you.

    June 18, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  5. boomer babe for Obama

    We attended a rally of Mrs. Obama's here in Asheville, NC and were quite impressed by her graciousness, style, warmth, and smarts. It was a very moving event, leaving us feeling that anyone who criticizes her patriotism isn't playing with a full deck.

    Of note: as campaign volunteers we sat behind her in full view of the cameras. Nobody screened those who sat in this group. All Asheville volunteers were welcome, and yes, diversity was quite evident.

    June 18, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  6. Swiss in Canada

    Michelle will be a GREAT first Lady. Smart, beautiful and smart again....Exactly whar your country needs....
    Susan, Halifax,

    June 18, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  7. Chris

    It's bad news when the first lady's already so knee-deep in poopy they have to hire her a crack team of communications professionals. Their best bet is to tell her to just shut up. No more "whitey", no more "first time I'm proud of my country," no more Michelle speaches.

    June 18, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |

    Everyone would agree it is immensely difficult to have any shred of American pride left after 8 years of GWBush.

    June 18, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  9. A Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    WOW Give me a break.

    I see the move was meant to address concerns within the campaign that Michelle Obama will be the target of significant attacks from conservatives this year. Their pre-emptive response is a team that one aide says is unprecedented in presidential politics.

    So to soften her hard core image they are assembling a large PR Staff. Maybe a heavy make up would work as well as telling what to say.

    I think the same people continue to tell Obama what to say as well.

    He is a girlie man and gives fluff speeches.

    June 18, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  10. Women In California for Obama

    Good for you Mrs. Obama. You will be such an inspiration to young girls everywhere such as my niece. I don't want her to have to look up to "the other woman" as a role model. Keep doing what you are doing and smile (without being phony) once in a while. Let people know you are strong, determined and very approachable.

    June 18, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  11. K

    Unreal! If she would shut her mouth, she wouldn't be attacked! Newsflash people were supposed to be electing her husband, not her! Why are we spending so much time talking about her? Oh, I know it deverts attention from his weak policies...

    June 18, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  12. Women In California for Obama

    By the way, great picture!

    June 18, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  13. Women In California for Obama

    Roy, San Diego, CA June 18th, 2008 7:18 pm ET

    Well, is she unpatriotic, elitist, and angry? How about we have a look at that thesis and go from there.

    Well Roy: Where is HRC's? We have been waiting for that for years.

    June 18, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  14. KLO

    "Sounds like a fixed poll to me, Obama could buy this election… Even though key democratic statesmen in the party will not endorse him becuase they feel that there is evidence that he has terrorist ties.

    Jenna in California

    Obama Plans to Disarm our country, so that we are vulnerable to takeover."

    Who cares if you are proud of your country or not. If your born here, and your parents are born here (or even if they weren't) we are ALL americans.

    Especially Jenna

    June 18, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  15. Rob. B.

    If michelle Obama is fair game then so is you know who.


    June 18, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  16. Don in CA.

    You in the old media really don’t try and hide your bias anymore. Obama this, Obama that... The Country is going to be in a world of hurt if Hopey McChange gets elected and you guys will be to blame.

    June 18, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  17. Bishop

    annie June 18th, 2008 7:41 pm ET

    What are they trying to do – get her to shut her mouth? Too little to late – she already has said what she thinks of America . The best way to shut her up is to have obama drop out of the race. That would be the best day America has had for awhile.

    So ignorant, Annie. Why? Bitter? I would be bitter too if I had my job shipped over seas, a gas was as high as it is. Sometimes, Annie, the truth is hard to swallow...

    June 18, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  18. California Voter

    I can understand the Obama campaign wanting to have a "team" working with his wife. She has said a number of things that have not helped Obama and this team will likely keep her from revealing more of her true colors . . . With this move, I believe they are also making her fair game for the oppostion. Which is fine, since the press has really been very easy on Obama and his wife. Obama was never treated as poorly as Hillary and I have to agree with Karl Rove that his race has worked to his advantage in this election.

    June 18, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  19. Pastor Robert Jones, Utah

    Why are the people of Iowa being punished? Have they displeased the heavens? Why are Illinois and Missouri now being punished as the Mississippi River overflows and breaks through the levees? Yes woe is upon all of them as they are ravaged by the floods. What have they done? Well, Iowa was the first state to vote for Obama and Missouri and illinois followed. No states that voted for Hillary have been touched. Yeah, lo and behold, it is evident.

    June 18, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  20. What PUMA Stands For:

    Purely, Unethical, Mixed-Up, Amorals.

    June 18, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  21. Jen, CA

    If you actually look up Michelle Obama's Princeton thesis - which, YES, is available on the Internet - the actual copy - I found it - you'll see that she didn't really sound all that smart! No wonder she needs a "war room" to clean up her act - and YOU are paying for it! But then, YOU (at the bottom of the "political food chain") will also be paying for Obama's spend-spend-spend programs! Good luck, idiots!

    June 18, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  22. Jon in Boulder

    This wouldn't be necessary, except the Republicans have a shortage of issues they can run on, so they will stoop to attacking the candidate's wife. McSame won't, he has too much integrity, but his supporters and the party will.

    June 18, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  23. GoMacFL

    It was inevitable. Nice they have all those little people sending them the money for such things. But then again, nothing surprises me anymore. For those looking for real... might I suggest you look at someone you can trust, someone who's record you can look at, someone who has spent their life in service to our country, someone who really cares about the country – John McCain. He and his wife, Cindy are real – not something made up to appeal to the people. We know him, we trust him, we will elect him in November.

    June 18, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  24. Nia - AZ by way of MN

    I saw Michelle on the View today and i thought she did a great job. i think one thing to consider is Michelle is a lawyer so when she makes her stump speeches and interviews, that is the aspect that she is speaking from. So I think if political aides can help personalize the story then fine, but they better not do anything to change her physically or personaly. The strong woman that she is, is who I've grown to enjoy. I'd rather see her as she is then some non exsistant demure First wife

    June 18, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  25. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    You are so right. I think this is great! Michelle did a very good job on the view today.

    It really wouldn't hurt for Cindy to have one too!

    June 18, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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