Michelle Obama talks husband's upbringing on campaign swing
April 24th, 2012
09:15 PM ET
11 years ago

Michelle Obama talks husband's upbringing on campaign swing

(CNN) – First lady Michelle Obama, making campaign stops in Nebraska and Iowa on Tuesday, boosted her husband's credentials while appearing to make small contrasts with his likely rival Mitt Romney, lauding President Barack Obama's core set of values and relaying stories of his modest upbringing.

Appearing alongside Warren Buffett in Omaha, Nebraska, Michelle Obama touted the White House-backed provision named for the billionaire investor, which would place a minimum 30% tax on Americans making more than $1 million a year. The "Buffett Rule" was blocked in the Senate last week.

In explaining the president's commitment to helping Americans who are struggling, the first lady harkened back to Barack Obama's upbringing.

"See, believe me, what you have to know is your president, Barack, he knows this," Michelle Obama said. "He knows this all too well. He understands these issues because he's lived them. He was raised by a single mother who struggled to put herself through school and pay the bills."

While not mentioning Romney explicitly, her reference to the economic struggles of her husband drew an implicit comparison with the Republican candidate, who has built a fortune estimated to be between $85 million and $264 million. Romney's father also enjoyed financial success, becoming the president of American Motors and then the governor of Michigan.

Many political observers have questioned whether Romney, given his wealth, will be able to connect with middle class voters. In her speech Tuesday, Michelle Obama emphasized her husband's ability to connect, given his experience.

"Believe me, Barack knows what it means when a family struggles," Obama said. "Believe me, he knows what it means when someone doesn't have a chance to fulfill their potential, and how much that hurts. Those are the experiences that have made him the man and the president he is today."

Speaking later in the day in Iowa, the first lady spoke of her husband's core set of values – something Romney's opponents have consistently claimed the former Massachusetts governor lacks.

"As president you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people but at the end of the day when it comes time to make a decision, all you have to guide you are your values and your vision and your life experiences," Obama said. "In the end when you're making those impossible choices, it all boils down to who you are and what your stand for. And we all know who my husband is."

The first lady went on to again detail her husband's modest upbringing, mentioning he was the son of a single mother who struggled to balance family obligations and coursework in college.

The Republican National Committee, which began a joint fundraising committee with Romney's campaign in early April, released a statement coinciding with the first lady's trip to Iowa.

“While Team Obama rolls out surrogates and campaign pageantry, Iowa voters have become disenfranchised with 3.5 years of President Obama’s broken promises and failed policies," RNC Spokesman Ryan Mahoney said. "Whether it’s Iowans fleeing the Democratic Party in droves, dismal polling, or sweeping Republican victories since Obama took office, Iowa has shifted away from Obama and no amount of campaign events can change that fact.”

Filed under: 2012 • Michelle Obama
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. king

    Mitchell's when are you going to prompt Obama to take the optimism tour on the road. He needs to get the Congress to pass a bill to modernize America. Americans want to see cranes and construction workers all over the place, so that they get their consumer confidence back boast the economy. I know the repubs will block this jobs bill, but the election is just around the corner, they will have to think twice about killing another jobs bill. I say take your optimism tour on the road, and put the pressure on the repubs to kill another jobs bill, so near to the election, the American voters will know what to do next.

    April 24, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  2. Kathy Lowe

    Obama said. "In the end when you're making those impossible choices, it all boils down to who you are and what your stand for. And we all know who my husband is.

    No we do not know who your husband is!

    April 24, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  3. Chipster

    @king It doesn't matter how optimistic President Obama is or what he does. The Republican Congress will never cooperate with him. They have pledged to make every effort to bring him down, not matter what it costs the nation. Didn't they make that clear enough? They have refused to vote in support of legislation that they support because they don't want the President to succeed. Voters foolishly elected a Congress that will not support anything that they fear will succeed. If voters want to see progress, they need to elect a Congress that will support the changes we need.

    April 24, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  4. Jen06

    "He was raised by a single mother who struggled to put herself through school and pay the bills." Funny, I could have sworn that his mother shipped him to Hawaii to live with his grandparents.

    April 24, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  5. virginia nielsen Florida

    Prez Obama connects with the people because for the first time in the American history we elected a president that doesn't belong to a rich family... he came from the middle class and was elected by this middle class , THE REAL AMERICAN PEOPLE !!!

    April 24, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  6. S. B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The problem is that Obama didn't have a whole lot while growing up no matter which family members he stayed with. I would like to ask how much in the way of loans and scholarships he received while attending college as an undergraduate and law school.

    April 24, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  7. Catmandew

    For having such a hard way to go in upbringing he sure managed to set himself up! I mean he never a serious job not paid for by the government. He started in Illinois land of backroom deals and that is all he is good for.

    April 24, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  8. Ant

    That's a big contrast between Mitt n Obama. Evebody knows they're two succeed guys, but the contrast is clear. Obama fights to become who he is now and Mitt does not. Who do u want to be example?

    April 24, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  9. Central Park West

    Michelle Obama just speaks to family, community and service. I love her approach and support of military families – 30 years overdue. I applaud her efforts to help families and children. I call on all well meaning Americans to insist that their representatives support health foods for school children and stem the tide of preventable illnesses dogging our children and driving up our health costs.

    April 24, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  10. onthefence

    I said it before ...Oh boy O boy GOP gonna lose...

    April 24, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  11. blairablair

    obama could not stand his mother and he did not want for anything compared to to the middle class people. He did not pay his way here, or after he got here,. how can people believe the lies coming out of their mouths. he did not pay his way through college. how can anyone forget who brought him over here and put him in college. the guy he denied having any relationship with at any time when he ran against Clinton. It was William Ayers as we found out after the fact.

    April 24, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  12. Cheryl H.

    SHE LIES, HE LIES THEY ALL LIE. We the people want to make the important decitions since this is our lives.The government just wants power. Obama is a serpent in water.

    April 25, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  13. julien vergara

    Obama has no luck. The world is suffering with poor economy. War is everywhere. Give other candidate chance to bring the world in normal situation. I miss america during clinton and reegan time

    April 25, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  14. BeverlyNC

    Michele Obama is a wonderful, intelligent, caring human being who has done tremendous work for families of soldiers and made a huge difference in putting emphasis on reducing childhood obesity. She and President Obama are wonderful parents, a strong couple, and yes we do know who President Obama is. He is a good and decent man with integrity, character, dignity in spite of Republican slander and racism and obstructionism, intelligence, and has real solutions for the successful future of America and ALL Americans – not just white rich ones that Republicans only care about. Republicans are set to destroy the lives of workers, women, Hispanics, students, our education system, our healthcare system including Medicare, Medicaid and all help for the poor including food stamps, hot lunches for poor children, and job training. They want to destroy all agencies that protect We the People – like the EPA, the FDA, FEMA, Social Security, Consumer Protection Agency, the Education Dept, and Romney just stated he would kill all veteran benefits including healthcare and end their pensions (this from a draft dodger who ran to France and hid during the Vietnam War and whose sons have run from the Republican wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), and wipe out even the small things that mean a lot to the middle class- like the mortgage interest tax deduction, teachers for our schools, police and fireman to handle the size of our cities, workers comp, unemployment insurance and every safety net we all depend upon. Romney is a liar not a leader. He is a destroyer who wants to return us to the disastrous Bush economic policies yet even more destructive and reckless. Romney has led a life of privilege and knows nothing about We the People, how real people live, work, or survive nor does he care. He is power hungry and thinks the Presidency is just something else he is entitled to be handed. He is clueless on the economy, on job creation, and on foreign policy. Stand up for the President the nation needs most right now – President Obama. He has a clear vision that benefits ALL Americans and we need to keep moving forward with him as our true compassionate and intelligent leader. He is real.

    April 25, 2012 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  15. mekas Makano

    For the famous and hardworking presidents in the us Obama is the one of them.first ,he just rules when is difficult time,economic,war everywhere and most of countries didn't no long like the us.he made good relations between America and others countries,he install peace allworldwideworldwide by killing osama .thank u Obama

    April 25, 2012 04:26 am at 4:26 am |
  16. Beckwith

    Re: "He was raised by a single mother who struggled to put herself through school and pay the bills."

    That statement is a lie.

    When Obama lived in Indonesia, his step-father was an executive with American Mobil Corporation, where he is a key liaison between the oil company and the Suharto regime. Obama and his mom lived very well in In donesia.

    After that, mom dumped Obama on her parents.

    Grandma "Toot" was a vice-president of the Bank of Hawaii, "Gramps" - BFF of Frank Marshall Davis - was an insuance salesman. Obama and grandparents lived in an expensive high-rise.

    And, of course, Obama had a full-boat sholarship to one of the best preparatory schools in the country.

    Cry me a river, Michelle. You're full of crap.

    April 25, 2012 07:02 am at 7:02 am |