As she prepares for the convention, Obama is one of the most popular political figures in the country, viewed favorably by nearly seven in 10 Americans. That means she can sell her husband, who is considerably less popular, rather than having to sell herself, as she did four years ago, when she was the less liked of the two. But she must be careful to advocate for him without appearing too partisan.
The 2008 convention “was very much about introducing her and in many ways the president to the country through an unfiltered lens,” said Stephanie Cutter, deputy manager of the Obama campaign. “This convention is more about just reminding people about the values and vision that drive the president every day and some of the decisions that have been made over the last four years that have moved us forward.”
But refreshing the public’s memory of the man behind the presidency is a more challenging task than the one Obama faced last time, when she acknowledged Barack Obama’s “funny name” while vouching for his values. In her convention speech Tuesday night, advisers said, she will try to speak to her husband’s disaffected supporters, giving them, as she says on the campaign trail, “the chance to see up close and personal what being president looks like . . . the problems with no easy solutions, the judgment calls where the stakes are so high and there is no margin for error.”
She will have to find new anecdotes that give insight into the president’s character to reach those people — particularly women, said Jennifer Lawless, director of American University’s Women and Politics Institute. “The fact that she is pretty honest about him and calls attention to some of his flaws and makes him seem like a real person is appealing,” Lawless said.
At the same time, she will be tasked with bringing attention to Barack Obama the family man, trotting out onstage with perfectly styled first daughters Sasha, 11, and Malia, 14.
In the campaign speech the first lady gives as she rallies supporters across the country, she talks about the “brilliant” women sitting on the Supreme Court because of her husband, about his administration’s support for equal pay for women in the workplace, and about how “Barack Obama believes women should be able to make our own choices about our health care.”