Michelle highlights Obama′s values | World| Breaking news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 05.09.2012
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Michelle highlights Obama's values

US First Lady Michelle Obama has campaigned for the re-election of her husband at the Democratic convention. She described her husband as the average American, who will fight for the middle class.

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama applauds after concluding her address to delegates during the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

USA Parteitag der Demokraten Michelle Obama

In her speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, US first lady Michelle Obama warmly described President Barack Obama as someone from a simple background. On their first date, her future husband had picked her up in a run-down old car.

"We were so young, so in love - and so in debt," she said, noting that in those days her husband wore shoes that were a half-size too small.

The whole Democratic National Convention is geared up to target the middle class. Michelle Obama duly did not present herself as a successful lawyer, but as a caring mother, whose priority is her family. For her, the question was whether a president could be a good father during his term as president. And in her speech, she answered that question with a resounding yes.

Michelle Obama described the US President as a fighter for the middle class - someone who can make unpopular decisions if he believes that they are right.

"He doesn't care whether you're a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above,” she said. “He knows that we all love our country (…) and he's always ready to listen to good ideas."

Supporters react as First Lady Michelle Obama delivers a speech at the convention.

Supporters react as Michelle Obama delivers her speech at the convention

A man of the people

Michele Obama focused on presenting the First Family as regular Americans, who only want the best for their children. The goal was to show the US president as someone who will work for all of America's families. So the first lady limited any attacks on Mitt Romney to factual arguments without once mentioning him by name.

But other speakers went on the offensive. Senate majority leader Harry Reid accused Romney of failing to make all his tax declarations public and of being untrustworthy. The mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Julian Castro, spoke in support of his party's social policies.

"We know that you can't be pro-business unless you're pro-education," he said, noting that Republications want to reduce government spending and cut benefits.

Strengthening the middle class

The convention provides a view of what the US can expect should Obama be re-elected. The main topic was economic policy and how the Democrats want to strengthen the middle class, according to Florida congresswoman, Debbie Wassermann-Schultz.

"This convention is about Americans coming together to build one economy not from the top down but from the middle class out and the bottom up," she said.

Reducing the budget deficit and national debt is also important. Up to now, a bipartisan committee has made no progress. Both sides agree on spending cuts, but Republicans oppose tax increases, which the Democrats insist on.

There are Republicans who are willing to compromise, but that would depend on the outcome of the congressional elections, Obama advisor Michele Flournoy told reporters in Charlotte.

Delegate looks at image of President Obama as she awaits the start of the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte

Quirky hardcore Obama fans demonstrate their support for Obama

"If (ultra conservatives) are pushed back in any way, I think that will create room for the more pragmatic and moderate Republicans to join the compromise that the American people want and deserve," she said.

Foreign policy plays smaller role

Many observers say that foreign policy will not feature substantially in this year's presidential elections.

"There's a certain irony that when a President is extremely successful at making Americans feel more secure both at home and abroad, they tend to worry about it less and so it's less of an election issue," said Flournoy, who also served as Undersecretary of State in the Department of Defense.

The US President would continue pursuing the effort to defeat al Qaeda, supporting transition in Afghanistan, she added, while also continuing to develop a strategic relationship with Asia-Pacific and maintaining alliances with Europe.

President Barack Obama speaks in the White House briefing room

US President Obama's speech will be the highlight on Thursday

Obama's speech is the prize

Thursday sees the climax of the convention when Barack Obama officially accepts the nomination at the Bank of America stadium, which can accommodate up to 65,000 people. People who have supported his campaign will get a ticket as a reward and can watch him accept the nomination together with the delegates. Thousands of tickets have been distributed. Even the convention itself has served as a recruitment event.

And it looks like the Democrats need all the support they can get. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are neck to neck in the polls. Pollster John Zogby told journalists in Charlotte that currently three voter groups are giving President Obama a headache: young voters between 18 and 29, Latino voters and the so-called creative class. Compared to 2008, Obama does not enjoy the same level of support from those groups. He still has two months to change that.

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