First Lady Michelle Obama sought to reassure voters that her husband shared their values — and to draw a drawing a contrast between him and Mitt Romney, who has enjoyed a lifetime of privilege and wealth — in a keynote address Democratic National Convention on Tuesday.
"Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it," the first lady said, the Associated Press reported, pointing out that Obama refrained from mentioning the president's Republican challenger.
Sharing the prime-time spotlight with San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro on Tuesday night, Obama was introduced by self-described "military mom" Elaine Brye of Winona, Ohio, who — according to the LA Times — began with the quip: "Wow. What’s a mom like me doing in a place like this?"
Brye, who has four children each in a branch of the military — Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines — told the crowd that after writing Obama "a mom-to-mom note to say thank you for caring" last Christmas card, the First Lady invited her to a state dinner honoring British Prime Minister David Cameron at the White House.
Brye, 57, a science teacher who spent two years in Air Force ROTC, and her husband, a former Air Force pilot, sat at George Clooney’s table.
She introduced Obama to the DNC by saying:
"I'm not even a political person. But what I am is a military mom….I don't know when I'm going to get them all together again because someone's always deploying. But because of Dr. [Jill] Biden and the first lady, our lives are a little bit easier. Along with President Obama, they have made helping military families a top priority….It is honor and respect in action and it warms this mother's heart."
Obama then arrived onstage to the sounds of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" by Stevie Wonder.
In a speech focusing on the middle class and including her own compelling personal story, Obama told of the couple's early years together, when they were "so in love, and so in debt."
"Today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago. Even more than I did 23 years ago. I love that he's never forgotten how he started. I love that for Barack ... there is no such thing as 'us' and 'them.' "
However, she also delivered a speech that the AP described as "by far her most political yet" and aimed at countering Republican efforts to paint Obama as something other than a typical American.
"Today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are – it reveals who you are."
She added that in "quiet moments late at night," she saw her husband "hunched over his desk, poring over the letters people have sent him."
"I see the concern in his eyes ... and I hear the determination in his voice as he tells me, 'You won't believe what these folks are going through, Michelle, it's not right. We've got to keep working to fix this. We've got so much more to do.'"