This is the print version of web special column. Transcript from MSNBC includes excerpts at bottom
WASHINGTON -- With polls showing African Americans yet to give overwhelming support to White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), his wife, Michelle, said "black America will wake up and get it" in an interview with MSNBC.
Michelle Obama predicted the surveys are "not going to hold," in an interview taped in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday to air this morning on MSNBC.
Her comments come as Obama heads toward Thursday's Democratic debate in Las Vegas with momentum: new polls in New Hampshire show Obama is gaining over front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.); he delivered a well-received speech and demonstrated organizational force at Saturday's Iowa Democratic Party dinner, and he emerged from a "Meet the Press" grilling unscathed.
In order to leverage the bump, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said in a fund-raising e-mail sent Monday, "We need to react quickly to build on this moment." He also set an $850,000 Internet fund-raising goal in order to eliminate one of the major fund-raising events Obama has in the coming weeks "so Barack can spend as much time in Iowa as possible."
In an interview clip running on Monday, Michelle Obama invoked the name of civil rights leaders Rosa Parks and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when talking about African-American turnout, a crucial voting bloc if Obama is to win.
Michelle Obama said there was a "natural fear of possibility" and that there were times in her life when she was put down or told she's "not ready." There is "always that doubt in the minds of people of color," she said. She said the African-American community has to shake off "that fear."
"That's what we want to show our community," Michelle Obama said. ". . . We can do this too."
MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski landed the exclusive with Michelle Obama. Her father, Zbigniew Brzezinski, is one of Barack Obama's national security advisers.
Monday night, Michelle Obama and designer Maria Pinto, whose clothes Michelle Obama wears, headlined a fund-raiser at a home on Chicago's North Side for the presidential campaign.
MICHELLE OBAMA THIS MORNING ON MSNBC’S “MORNING JOE”
NEW YORK – November 13, 2007 – In an interview that aired earlier today on "Morning Joe," Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.), spoke with MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski. Obama discussed her marriage to the Senator, campaign competition with Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), and how race plays a role in the 2008 election.
Below are excerpts from the interview. "Morning Joe" telecasts weekday mornings from 6 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET. Chris Licht is executive producer.
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MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Given the fact that you're educated and accomplished in your own right, surely you have opinions. How would you characterize your role in the marriage, in terms of advising on politics and policy?
MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SEN. OBAMA: Yeah, I think that the best way to characterize it is that I'm the -- I'm a big-picture values kind of person.
I don't spend any time at all -- because I don't have the time -- to, sort of, dig deep into his energy policy. Not my forte. I'm not an energy person. You know, I'm not necessarily the one that, you know, has particularly interesting insight.
But I do know values. I do know what I believe in. You know, I do know what makes sense. And I -- I know common sense, and I know when things are not right or fair.
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BRZEZINSKI: Given the debate over whether he's been too passive when it comes to Hillary Clinton, he's gotten a lot of unsolicited advice on this. What is Michelle's advice?
OBAMA: We definitely talked about it. We talked about this before we entered the race, because our view is that we're -- we're not doing this to win. And you -- you can't win at all costs, and sometimes that's what politics has become.
You know, that's what the press is, sort of, saying: "If you want to win, you got to kill her, you know, you got to rip her apart." Well, if that's the only way you can win -- which we don't believe is the case. If that's all politics is, if we've digressed as a society to a point where that's the only way we can work out issues with people and -- you know, no wonder we're such a divided country.
And if Barack wants to be a different kind of leader, then his approach to victory has to be different.
So I don't want Barack to be anybody other than who he is, because if America doesn't accept that, then I want America to own that. I want them to look themselves in the face and say, "You had a choice. You had a choice to choose somebody who was decent, who was going to be a uniter, somebody who was going to be honest, who was going to tell you the truth, all these things you say you want, and then you get it, and you trip. You freak out. And you question it. And you worry, and 'Is it true?'" That's on us.
And I don't want Barack to be anybody other than who he is. Because we certainly don't want to spend the next four or eight years in the White House trying to live up to a persona that isn't true.
Because the point isn't winning, it's changing the country, it's changing America, it's changing the way we do -- it's throwing this game out. It's shaking it up and throwing it out the window. It's not just playing it better than the people who played it before.
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BRZEZINSKI: So, let's talk about changing the game a little bit. The polls are showing your husband is trailing Hillary 46 percent to 37 percent in the African-American community. What's going on here?
OBAMA: First of all, I think that that's not going to hold. I'm completely confident black America will wake up and get it.
But what we're dealing with in the black community is just the natural fear of possibility.
You know, when I look at my life, you know, the stuff that we're seeing in these polls has played out my whole life. You know, always been told by somebody that I'm not ready, you know, I can't do something, my scores weren't high enough. You know, there's always that doubt in the back of the minds of people of color, people who've been oppressed and haven't been given real opportunities, that you never really -- that you believe that somehow, someone is better than you. You know, deep down inside, you doubt whether you can do it because that's all you've been told is, "No. Wait." That's all you hear.
And you hear it from people who love you, not because they don't care about you, but they're afraid. They're afraid that something might happen.
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BRZEZINSKI: I've read that you've said initially you were a little wary of your husband running and that you might have even been a little skeptical about politics. Is that fair?
OBAMA: Oh, absolutely. More than fair, it's true. It's not fair. It's true.
BRZEZINSKI: It is true.
BRZEZINSKI: And I think you -- at this point you must have considered not only your husband's ability to do the job, as you have said, but your own. So what is it that you bring to the table, as opposed to the other potential first ladies out there?
OBAMA: You know, I think it's who I am. I don't think it's much what I bring is different from what Barack brings. It's -- it's truth. You know, one thing that I hope people understand is that I will always be authentically me.