MT. PLEASANT - One year ago Michelle Obama said she wasn't planning on being on the campaign trail for her husband, Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois). She was on vacation in Hawaii visiting with her husband's family when they started talking about it.Howie P.S.: For me, Michelle Obama is the antidote to the ideas expressed below in the Hunter S. Thompson piece, though I'm not sure the medicine will cure the nation.
“Everything looks better in Hawaii,” she said.The decision to run was one that had to be made, Michelle Obama told a crowd in Mount Pleasant last week.
“I don't think we had a choice. We couldn't just wait and hope someone would do better,” she said.
Obama said she and her husband want a world they can turn over to their daughters. She said the country is too divided and people are very cynical in the country these days.
“We've been taught it's OK to only worry about our own little piece of land,” she said. “We're still islands in our own right.”
Obama urged people to stay in the political process. Many people have washed their hands of politics and don't seem to care who gets elected. The problem with that, she said, is that when someone leaves their seat the process doesn't end, but instead someone else takes that seat. And there are plenty of special interests ready to fill those empty seats.
She also spoke of the culture of fear she feels the country has become gripped in.
“Fear creates a gripping veil of impossibility,” she said.
Obama said she wouldn't be standing in front of crowds like this one if she had listened to the fears and opinions of others. She said that throughout her whole married life she and Barack have been told it wasn't their time.
“And when we finally pushed our way through to the table each time, I found we were more ready than we had imagined,” she said.
She also related fear about the war in Iraq. She said her husband is the only current front- runner who stood up in 2002 as a member of the Illinois Senate, but ran for the U.S. Senate to say the war was a bad idea.
“The other front-runners fell in line,” she said. “It was a time when there was a popular president ... that's hard to remember ... and it was a popular war,”
She said the war in Iraq is one of the most pressing issues to solve. Can Barack Obama get it done?
His wife says yes. She also says that's not because she's married to him. She has seen him work and knows that of all the candidates he is the one who will be able to get people to work together.
Obama spent some time discussing what her husband would like to fix as president. She said in her lifetime families have gone from being able to live on one salary and still be able to pay the bills and take an occasional vacation to scraping by on two salaries.
“This isn't just something that's happened in the last eight years - this has been going on my entire adult life,” she said.
Helping families afford life's expenses such as medical care and other bills is a priority. She also spoke about education, saying she is a proud product of public schools but schools need to be worked on. She said schools vary a lot from building to building, saying that there are a lot of good ones out there, but they all have room for improvement.
Obama said she didn't really want to go on the campaign trail but there was no other choice. She said she and Barack have spent their adult lives trying to make things better. Barack worked in inner city neighborhoods, went on to be a civil rights lawyer, then to the Illinois senate. She said he found out that to make a real difference he had to get in a position to help change laws for the better. As president, he certainly could do that.
Joining Obama was Rep. Dave Loebsack. He said he feels Obama can be the person to work with both sides of the political spectrum. After a very civil campaign he had with former representative Jim Leach, he said Americans are sick and tired of the meanness of politics and that Obama seems uniquely qualified to bridge the divide.
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