September 18th, 2009
02:26 PM ET
11 years ago

Michelle Obama: A secret weapon in health care reform?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - She stood by her husband throughout the contentious 2008 presidential campaign and during heated health care reform debates during his presidency.

Now, as the reform debate is reaching a fever pitch, first lady Michelle Obama is weighing in on the issue by focusing on how health care can affect families.

"What she's doing is putting a personal and human face on the issue ... there's nothing more crucial," said Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn. "Everybody gets sick, and everybody has someone in the family that gets sick."

"I think if you can humanize it and personalize it, it suddenly brings it home to people - especially those who are screaming and yelling about the government taking over," Quinn said.

On Friday, the first lady, a former hospital administrator, spoke about the issue to a crowd at the White House, highlighting her own family's experience with health care.

In one touching moment, Obama recalled when daughter Sasha exhibited signs of potentially deadly meningitis when she was 4 months old.

"We didn't know what, but he [the doctor] told us she could have meningitis, so we were terrified. He said get to the emergency room right away," she said. "Fortunately, things worked out."

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Filed under: Health care • Michelle Obama
soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. willow

    HA! A secret weapon? I don't think so. She, her husband and daughters and all the congressmen need sign up for this wonderful new health-care program first. If any one of them refuses then we know it's not all it's cracked up to be. And we all know not a single one of them will sign up. Leave my health-care alone or you will see a secret weapon!!

    September 18, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. Matthew Duncan

    Michelle Obama's job as a "hospital administrator" had nothing to with medicine and nothing to do with administrating. It was all about PR.

    Her official title was Vice President for External and Community Affairs. But that title and that job was so unnecessary, that , it not only didnt exist before she got it, when she resigned the position to campaign with her husband, no one was ever rehired to fill it, and the job itself was terminated after she resigned..

    Michelle Obama had been working for the University of Chicago Hospital at a salary of $121,000 a year. But in 2005 after Barrack Obama was elected U.S. senator, Michelle got the promotion to Vice President of External Community Affairs, - a position that didn't previously exist - and a $200,000 a year raise - to $316,000.

    September 18, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. Ray, Florida

    What a great lady. Not only does she know what she is talking about having worked in a hospital, but as a mother she can relate to the issues of health care. She and President Obama cares about people. Keep up the good work Mrs. Obama!

    September 18, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. Proud member of the party of Yes We Can!

    "Sorry I dont think she represents the Administration well. She comes across as a "Know it all" and very elitest."

    I know it's hard for you to see a First Lady who is smart, but try to get used to it . . . .like it or not she's going to be around for awhile!

    September 18, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. Glennis

    Hospital administrator??? Her title when she left was Vice President for External and Community Affairs, which is nothing more than a PR job. Oddly, she got that (previously non-existent) job when her husband landed in the Senate, along with a whopping $200k a year raise. During her tenure, she was part of an initiative that steered the poor and uninsured away from "her" hospital, saving them big bucks.
    Her job was apparently so important no one else could do it, thus they never replaced her when she left. I don't think she has anything more to offer towards healthcare reform than I do.

    September 18, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. Mac

    Not only is the 1st Lady a college graduate she was also the sole bread winner while her husband started his political career.

    September 18, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. Farrell in Houston

    First Lady Michelle Obama is a secret weapon of reasoning and intelligence, the same way I have raised my daughter which was passed down from many generations.

    September 18, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  8. Dan, WA

    This lady does not understand the reality. Her husband has created nightmare to the ordinary citizens and the seniors in our country. CNN wants to put her on the pedestal but for me she is nothing. She does not deserve to be called First lady. I hope Barack Obama is listening as he also got into the White House through the back door. It is a sad stroty for Ameircan people and we will need another ten years to correct the situation, our economy and our lives.

    September 18, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. yuri

    Michelle is treading the same area, Clinton did 15 years ago. That's one helluva rejection response Hillary had to hover around, until reality set in, thank heavens!

    September 18, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  10. West Palm Beach, FL resident with SENSE

    To the idiot in Ft. Lauderdale that implied that Michelle is some kind of gold digger, please stop watching rap videos. Until Obama wrote his books and made income from royalties, Michelle made nearly DOUBLE his income. She is just as smart as he is and has the fine education and strong career of her own. How dare you assert that she married him for power? She has the Harvard law degree too and was HIS MENTOR when he came out of law school. I am so sick of idiots ignoring women's accomplishments and writing bold face lies so they themselves can feel powerful. She will be a GREAT asset to the President in his and our fight for better healthcare.

    September 18, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. Hypocrite?

    What a difference a day (a year) makes.

    While employed at her $338,000 position, her employer contracted with David Axelrod to prevent emergency room visits from the poor to help cut expenses for the hospital.

    Now, a sob story on insurance woes? Not buying it.

    September 18, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. joan

    Hello people! Does anyone really think the system as it is now works? I am glad Mrs. Obama can "put a face" on the reality of someone in your family having a frightening health scare. It happens every day- be grateful if you can afford health insurance, and have compassion for those who can't. With all the job cuts those "deadbeats" are more likely your neighbor. Do you know how much unemployment is? Do you know that here in Florida, it costs a family of four roughly $1700 a month for health insurance even with a hefty deductible. (thats also with COBRA) No wonder more Americans are hoping for some kind of healthcare help. I do not know about you, but it seems to be about priorities-we have spent an awful lot of money bailing out corporations, and going to war. Perhaps we should care more about those who are LESS fortunate in our own country and shift some of out tax money THEIR way. Too many families have been left vulnerable by our current system. Quit telling us why we can't do it-Show us how we CAN.

    September 18, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. David S.

    Who gives a crud what she thinks, last time I checked being married to the President doesnt mean your an elected person or given any authority. Well at least the Constitution doesnt give any, that document hasnt been followed very much lately .

    September 18, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. Jake

    PL,
    what makes you think I'm a liberal?

    September 18, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Phyllis

    I lived and worked for a time in Washington, DC for the Dept. of HUD. The goverment employees–from the lowest to the highest rank–had the best health insurance!....this is the same insurance that many of the politicians have and are offering to the American people. I had major surgery which cost over $35,000 and I only had to pay $20!! You can still keep the insurance that you already have if you want to, but this insurance would be another option if you wanted to change. Don't listen to the scare tactics.....listen to and read the facts and then make your own judgement.. No one is going to be made to do anything they don't want to do.. I wish I had that insurance now instead of what I have.

    September 18, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. Craig

    Phoenix86 – Just goes to show what a free country we have when an ignorant voice like yours can just say anything they want and some weak minded people take it for fact. Read more to learn the facts or in your case look at pictures...

    Nice work President and Mrs. Obama keep up the good work!!!!

    September 18, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  17. centerleft

    The right wing nuts will get crazier they hate nice people.

    September 18, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  18. Jim

    Mrs. Obama will be a valuable contributor to the health care debate and an eloquent spokesperson for the President's program.

    She is one of the most intelligent, articulate and compassionate women on the planet. She speaks with authority and from the heart about health and family issues, and she has worked directly in the health care industry. When she speaks on the health care issue, I challenge any Republican critic like Joe Wilson to call her a liar!

    September 18, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  19. Jon

    Hopefully she'll talk more about her University of Chicago patient-dumping scheme!

    September 18, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Only the uninformed and unobjective individuals have a problem with the push for healthcare for EVERYONE. IF we are to be seen as a great country, then we need to treat ALL our CITIZENS with equal rights. The right to get medical attention is included.
    Watch the movie "John Q" with Anne Heche and Denzel Washington if you need reference.
    Members of Congress have insurance...those who can afford it have it, those who have it through their jobs have it...so why should everyone NOT get care when they need it if they need it? There are people who are uneducated across the board and those who believe what they allow others to brainwash them with and live in small towns that are only populated and surrounded more people who "think" the same should in No way to be considered as objective individuals. You want someone talking about a particular topic to be educated and informed, not stupid and talking and acting stupid like the stupid tea party participants. It is those who are so against this healthcare reform that don't want to see him succeed in making this happen.
    OBAMACARE=OBAMACARES

    September 18, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  21. Jon

    Why does she always look so angry?

    September 18, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  22. dharmesh

    It is compeling story from Mrs. Obama regarding the treatment she received for her daughter, so now why government want to ruin the great health care system.

    September 18, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  23. Susan in Sunnyvale, CA

    Excuse me, CNN–why would you use the word "weapon" in reference to Michelle Obama's support of this issue? would you have called Laura Bush a "weapon"? I think not.
    This is the kind of spin we are all talking about when we say the media is biased. It is not the content, but the choice of terminology that provides the spin.

    September 18, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  24. Mike O

    Yea; if you can do touchy-feely smoke and mirrors to mask the actual CONTENT of the proposed bills, maybe they can sneak this healthcare nightmare through.

    September 18, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  25. Susan in Sunnyvale, CA

    Well said, rightsaid.

    "We just need to join the civilized world and guarantee health care for everyone in the nation."

    September 18, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
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