Friday, March 14, 2008

"Michelle Obama Stumps in Philadelphia Suburbs"

The Caucus, NY Times political blog:

ARDMORE, Pa. — The Obama campaign made another foray into Pennsylvania today, sending Michelle Obama to the upscale Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia. Her husband, Senator Barack Obama, is expected to do well with the area’s affluent, well-educated voters, many of whom view the war in Iraq as the most important issue.

Her visit follows one by Mr. Obama to Bucks County on Tuesday and comes as Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign is suggesting that Mr. Obama has ceded the state, where Mrs. Clinton leads in the polls.

Mrs. Obama visited a day-care center here and read Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat” to some children. She then sat for a half-hour discussion with five women — in front of about 50 people, most of them women, and a phalanx of cameras _ and talked about the pressures of trying to balance work and family life. She is a hospital administrator and aside from having a husband who is running for president, they have two daughters.

Mrs. Obama described herself as a “110-percenter,” which is how much she said she gives of herself to both her family and her job, which means she always feels “like I’m failing.” She said that she grew up thinking she could “have it all,” but “I’m coming to be convinced that it’s not attainable, at least not now, at least not at 110 percent.”

Asked what her husband says when they discuss these issues, Mrs. Obama said he wanted to build a new majority in Congress because without it, no Democratic plan for health care or anything else could pass.

“His ability to win in all kinds of states is something we haven’t seen in a while,” she added, noting that he was attracting both independents and moderate Republicans, of whom there are many in this area. “Welcome, welcome,” she said to those voters. She said her husband’s candidacy was “the first time in a while that people have felt energized, and that energy isn’t just fluff.”

She also touched on his desire to end the war in Iraq, but in a nod to Mrs. Clinton, who has also vowed to end it, she said, “There are many candidates who understand we need to bring this war to a close.”

Asked what it’s like when your husband comes home and says he’s running for president, Mrs. Obama, who was initially skeptical of the whole idea, said: “The first reaction is ‘You’re kidding.’ Then you keep saying that for a while and hope that he goes away.” Everyone laughed.

But she said he would be a good president because he wants to “heal” the country. She described him as someone who had the gift of connecting with people and is, at heart, a “policy wonk.”

“He reads everything, is a strong manager, will bring in the best and the brightest and doesn’t have his ego in play, and what I said when I said yes is, this would be the man I would want to be leading us _ if I weren’t married to him,” she said, again to laughter. “The problem is that he is my husband.” But, she said, “you have to give it a shot because this could be the guy who could help move us in a different direction.”

Her visit helped change the mind of at least one of her listeners. Michelle Daniszewski, 35, a teacher who lives in Drexel Hill and has two young girls, said she came to the event undecided. In fact, she came just to listen but ended up being asked by the campaign to be one of the women to sit and talk with Mrs. Obama.

“It’s nice to see another working mom who’s dealing with all these issues,” she said. And of Mr. Obama she said, “He really is fresh blood.”

Mrs. Obama was also scheduled to round out her visit to the suburbs with rallies at Abington High School and Villanova University.

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