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First lady Michelle Obama appeals for more time

US First Lady Michelle Obama has spoken in support of her husband at the Democratic National Convention, calling for him to be given more time. She said that change "never happens all at once."

The speech late on Tuesday came the week after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, gave a speech on her own husband's behalf in Tampa.

While spouses' convention speeches could be seen as preaching to the converted, they are also regarded as an opportunity to humanize candidates and reach out to a wider audience.

At the Democrats' own convention center in Charlotte, North Carolina, Michelle Obama urged voters to give her husband, President Barack Obama, more time to fix a weak US economy. "He reminds me that we are playing a long game here, and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once," she said.

In her speech, Michelle Obama was clearly eager to connect with non-Democrats as well as the party's core voters.

"For Barack, there's no such thing as us and them. He doesn't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat or none of the above," she said.

However, she did appear to take several swipes at the opposition, including one over the issue of abortion. "He (Obama) believes that women are more than capable of making choices about their bodies and their healthcare," she said.

Before Michelle Obama spoke, one of the Democratic Party's rising hopefuls - Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio, Texas - accused the opposition Republican Party candidate of naivety and failing to address the concerns of the middle class. "Mitt Romney, quite simply, doesn't get it," said Castro.

As one of the party's higher-profile Hispanic stars, Castro had a prime-time speaking slot ahead of First Lady Michelle Obama. Former President Bill Clinton was scheduled to deliver Wednesday's highest-profile speech.

rc/msh (AFP, Reuters)