"The Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago," she says

By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall
Updated August 25, 2008 11:55 PM
Mike Segar/Reuters/Landov

Michelle Obama gave the kind of intimate, emotional endorsement only a wife could give in her headlining speech kicking off the Democratic National Convention on Monday night.

She recalled her husband, Barack Obama, as a nervous new dad, before the hype and hoopla of his life on the national stage, and said he has not been changed by politics. “He’s the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital 10 years ago this summer,” said Michelle, “inching along at a snail’s pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands … [He was] determined to give her what he never had, the affirming embrace of a father’s love.”

Her voice caught with emotion and she sniffed several times.

At the start of a four-day gathering that will culminate in her husband receiving the Democratic nomination for president, Michelle, 44, remembered the long, hard-fought primary season. “After all that’s happened these past 19 months, see, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago.”

Her mother, Marian Robinson, beamed from a front-and-center seat with the Illinois delegation. “She’s my baby,” the 71-year-old Robinson said in the biographical video called South Side Girl that preceded Michelle to the stage.

Michelle was introduced by her older brother Craig Robinson, head basketball coach at Oregon State University, who remembered his sister waking him up early on Christmas morning, playing piano to calm him before his high-school basketball games and, despite being allowed only one hour of TV each night, managing “to commit to memory every single episode of The Brady Bunch.”

Michelle commanded the stage in her form-fitting turquoise sheath by Chicago-based designer (and Obama friend) Maria Pinto. Actress Kerry Washington was in the convention hall for Michelle’s speech, calling her the new Jackie O. “I’m really excited about all of us emulating her – not only in her style but in her grace, said the Ray actress, who campaigned for Barack Obama in nine states during the Democratic primaries.

After Michelle’s speech ended, she was joined by daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, as Stevie Wonder’s song “Isn’t She Lovely” played over the loudspeakers.

Barack Obama himself made an appearance live via satellite from a campaign stop in Kansas City, Mo. to praise his wife.

From the stage, the couple’s daughter’s called out “I love you, Daddy” as the family wished each other good night.

Reporting by VICKIE BANE

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