Juggles Stumping And Home Life; Says Whole Family Runs When Either Spouse Does--Michelle Obama is like a lot of women, running in a thousand different directions. She is maintaining a household, raising two children, keeping a successful career afloat, and, oh yeah, trying to get her husband elected president.
Obama, a Harvard-educated lawyer and mother of two small girls, has become a big player in the campaign for the Democratic nomination of her husband, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.
And, as The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm observed during a visit to Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago, Michelle's being in with both feet now is in stark contrast to her initial resistance to his entering politics at all, due to the impact she knew it would have on their family.
"(What) I went through, that I see a lot of my friends go through, is how, as women, do we do all this?" she said. "You know -- do we continue to be the wonderful loving spouse, the good mothers that we want to be, that we're on top of our game professionally, that we stay healthy and attractive, that's you know, that's hard stuff to balance."
When her husband ran for Congress in 2000, Michelle complained, "I never thought I'd have to raise a family alone."
But then she got help at home, and made a career change.
She cut back substantially on her workload as an attorney to focus on the couple's children, and what she calls, their candidacy.
Was that a difficult decision?
"No," Michelle responded. "It really varies. I mean, we're running for the president of the United States. You know, my husband is running to become the next president of the ..."
"You said, we're running," Storm interrupted.
"We are. We are," Michelle replied. "... Whenever you are running, a candidate, their family is running, too. We're feeling all the bumps and the bruises. Our lives are turned around. We're making the sacrifices."
Michelle maintains a grueling schedule, making daytrips to be home before her daughters go to bed.
But even talking about her efforts to find balance has backfired.
Emerging as what Storms calls "a star in the campaign," Michelle is growing accustomed to intense scrutiny. In August, she felt the full glare of the media spotlight when one of her regular stump speech lines was taken by some as a swipe at the marriage of the hopeful widely seen as her husband's chief competition for their party's nod, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.
"My view," she said in the speech, "is that, if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House."
"I was talking about me, my life," Michelle insisted to Storm. "Go figure. ... I'd been saying that for months."
Why the reaction then? Why the firestorm?
"Good question," Michelle answered. "Don't know."
Equally mystifying, Storm says, is the lack of impact the Obamas have had with women voters. Barack trails Clinton in polls by some 30 points among women.
"You know," Michelle said, "I -- we -- are working hard to ensure to the women of America that Barack Obama is who we need. ... You know, some women just feel like -- that it's a woman's turn. You know, they just feel like, you know, it's Hillary's turn. That, I reject. Because democracy isn't supposed to be about whose turn it is."
Asked by Storm if all the sacrifices she and Obama have made will have been worth it if he fails to win the Democratic nomination, Michelle said, "If we've been able to change the way people think about the political process ... if they're people engaged in democracy, that had lost faith, that were cynical, that never voted, that never cared, if we can change that, it will absolutely be worth it."
Michelle told Storm she hopes Oprah Winfrey, who recently endorsed Obama, will hit the campaign trail for him. More on that on The Saturday Early Show.