Michelle Obama says change takes time as she steals first night of Democratic Convention



They willed her to soar when she stepped out last night but she was already fueled up. With charm mixed with almost yearning earnestness, Michelle Obama stole the first night of the Democratic Convention offering a paean to her husband that silenced the ushers bossing us to keep the aisles clear and drew others to tissue away tears.

At one point calling herself Mom-in-Chief, Mrs Obama delivered a narrative that might have at times veered towards the saccharin and the Disney but which drove home a powerful theme: that the president her husband is a leader who knows himself and knows the nation because of where he came from and what he went through.

It was a speech meant above all to separate him from his challenger Mitt Romney. “For Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives,” she said, after ticking off what she said were his signature domestic achievements including passing universal healthcare, reinforcing a woman’s right to equal pay, defending low interest rates for students and supporting abortion and equal access to marriage.

“For Barack, these issues aren’t political, they’re personal,” said Mrs Obama in a raspberry and gold print Tracey Reese dress and J. Crew shoes. She said she had been wrong when she had feared that being president would change him. “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.”

Her speech came after a first night of proceedings that seemed to generate instant electricity in a way that the Republican convention of one week ago mostly did not.  The mugginess and the dreadful musical interludes of Tampa were gone and delegates appeared to hang onto the words of most if not all the speakers while wearing a kind of confidence almost out of step with the wisdom of the pundits and the pollsters that this race is wide open.

The performance of Mrs Obama and of two other standout party stars before her – Julian Castro, the Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, and Ted Strickland, the former Governor of Ohio – will set a high standard for the most anticipated speaker on this evening’s schedule, former president Bill Clinton. But it seemed unlikely that he, one of the most accomplished and still most popular political figures in the land, would let that intimidate him.

If Mrs Obama eschewed mention of Mr Romney, that was not so of Mr Strickland.  Poking at his failure so far to release multiple years of his tax returns, he said, “You have to wonder what’s so embarrassing that he is going to such lengths to bury the truth.” He quipped that Mr Romney “has so little economic patriotism that even his money needs a passport.  It summers on the beaches of the Cayman Islands, and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps.”

Mr Castro, who was plucked from relative obscurity to give last night’s keynote address, drew laughs by mocking the Republican nominee for saying ‘No’ on issue after issue until it came to universal healthcare which he introduced to Massachusetts while its governor. “Mitt Romney said ‘yes’, and now he says ‘no’. Governor Romney has undergone an extreme makeover, and it ain’t pretty,” he added triggering a wave of laughter.

But it was Mrs Obama that rang in the ears of delegates filing out of the Time Warner Arena into the Charlotte night. Some may have noticed signs to a fan zone high up in the terraces of the sports complex that goes by the name “Rock the Rooftop”, which is more or less what the first lady had just done, albeit before an audience that had been determined to love her before she had delivered even the first syllable.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions