She killed it! That was the universal assessment following First Lady Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic Convention last night.

Share story

She killed it! That was the universal assessment following First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic Convention last night.

Obama went beyond the perfunctory first lady’s speech to give a rousing stump speech that summed up her eight-year conversion from reluctant political spouse to formidable political wife.

Obama, who reportedly spent a month penning her own speech, delivered a powerful mix of the political and the personal. We heard again about the couple’s humble childhoods. President Obama’s shabby clothes and rusted car when he was a young lawyer were once again part of a key narrative. As was his choice to pass up big salaries to work in community organizing. Yes, Ann Romney also spoke glowingly of her husband, Mitt Romney last week. She gave us a glimpse of his sacrifices and aspirations.

But here’s the reason Michelle Obama is the Democratic presidential campaign’s secret weapon: she connected herself and the president to ordinary Americans in a way few other first couples have been able to do.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

“Barack knows the American dream because he’s lived it,” she told a rapt audience. She spoke of the long road to paying off their college student loans, a story that resonates with Americans struggling with more than $1 trillion in outstanding college loans.

Republicans have tried to paint the Obamas as envious of successful Americans. Mrs. Obama addressed that directly last night, saying she and her husband do not begrudge anyone else’s success. Indeed they admire it.

The other side of the political aisle gave the first lady props. Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, told MSNBC Obama did a great job laying out the argument – in touchingly personal terms – for four more years.

Her best lines: “Success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.” “I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are—it reveals who you are.”

Mrs. Obama arrived in Charlotte, N.C. with approval ratings higher than her husband’s. She’s a sharp lawyer and astute reader of political winds. Perhaps the Democrat’s best political asset deserves her own turn in 2016?

The First Lady’s speech:

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.