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Sweet column: Black voters will "wake up and get it"-Michelle Obama. TRANSCRIPT.


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.



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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.


This is another case of double standards. Blacks are supposed to vote of Obama, why? Because he is black? If white candidates pointed out that 'White America' needs to wake up, the media would pound on them for being racist.
Just why is Obama's wife getting a free pass?

I'm NOT for any candidate in either party, yet....So being neutral I can ask this concerning Ms. Obama's comment to all you African-American Hillary backers. And I'll look forward to your replys.

Why your fascination with the Clinton's? What have the Clinton's done for black people? I'm being totally serious. Under Clinton's presidency, more young African-American males where incarcerated into our penal systems then any 2 previous presidency's. Mainly NON-violent drug offenses. He also pushed '3 strikes and your out', and crack cocaine is a heavier jail sentence then the slap on the wrist regular cocaine users (his Hollywood pals and yuppies) received. Hey, more African-American bought homes in the (there hated) Reagan Administration then during the Clinton years. We have 4.7% unemployment now, 5.2% when Clinton left office. Your employment situation wasn't better then. The media (which is biased just wanted you to believe that). Matter of fact, Clinton in '93 gave us NAFTA, GATT, WTO, one-sided trade treaties with China in exchange for campaign contributions. And these treaties happened a year before (your hated) the republicans took control of congress. Who did these treaties affect? Well it was mainly semi-skilled manufacturing workers who saw there jobs outsourced. And much of the outsourcing were firms located in the urban cities of America. Who worked many of those jobs? Who has a high percentage of the population in the cities? I'd say friends like that, who need enemies. Finally, ever ask yourself why he did he begin dropping the bombs when rumors of some whites being roughed-up in Bosnia and Kosovo happened, but looked the other way and did NOTHING when one million innocent human-beings were slaughterd in Rwanda and another million in Sudan in horrible genocides? Is it because he wore nice shades and played the sax on the Arsenio Show? And he was a democrat. If so, I have the same kind of shades. So will you consider voting for me.

"well, look", a few months ago, few americans had ever heard of michelle obama. her husband gave a speech at the democrats convention, beat a nobody in a senate race, and now claims to "bring people together". now she wears designer clothes and her mundane comments on american politics are topic of discussion. "well", lots of black people, including myself, went and go to ivy league colleges and don't scrap for a mantle of political leadership.
"look", these guys are the political equal of bonnie and clyde...only they keep all the money. if this is the "josuha generation", i'll take sharpton. where's shirley chisolm when we need her?


"This is another case of double standards. Blacks are supposed to vote of Obama, why? Because he is black? If white candidates pointed out that 'White America' needs to wake up, the media would pound on them for being racist.
Just why is Obama's wife getting a free pass?"

Michelle is not telling black Americans to "vote black". Her message is clear: American blacks need to start voting more period. In this nation, those who do not vote are not fully human in the eyes of the law. If blacks want to be heard, then they have to speak up. The first step is to register to vote; the second step is to vote at every opportunity.

"well, look", seems somebody else awakened! you go michelle!!

Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank Endorses Clinton
Rep. Frank Will Serve As Economic Adviser
The Clinton Campaign announced the endorsement of Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank and named him as an Economic Advisor to the Campaign.

"I have from the beginning of this campaign believed that Hillary Clinton was the candidate best qualified to serve as President,” Rep. Frank said. “I am convinced that once elected, the qualities she will bring to the job - commitment, intellect, and political skills - will make her an extremely effective leader in our effort to reverse the badly flawed course on which George Bush and past Republican Congresses have set this country.

“I am particularly pleased by her commitment to reverse the economic policies that have created a situation in which as the country progresses economically, only a small number of Americans benefit. Her understanding of the need to implement policies that provide fairness for middle and working class people is very important. She has shown an ability to fight for progressive values in a way that is capable of appealing to the majority of our fellow citizens, and I believe that she is both politically and substantively the candidate best qualified to be our nominee.

“As Chair of the House Financial Services Committee with major responsibilities for various parts of our economy, I particularly look forward to working with her and members of her administration in once again demonstrating that economic growth and a concern for economic fairness in fact are reinforcing values, and not, as the current administration believes, in competition with each other.

"In addition, based on my work with her on issues involving discrimination, I am convinced that Hillary Clinton is the candidate best equipped to pass laws that will treat all Americans with dignity, fairness and equality no matter who they are or who they love.”

“I’m honored to have the support of one of the sharpest minds in Congress,” Clinton said. “Barney has devoted his life to championing economic fairness and civil rights, and expanding opportunity for all Americans. I’m delighted he’ll take a leadership role in our campaign.”

What does Michelle think the blacks will do?

They don't stand up for the killing in there "hoods" and they

will come out and vote? What is she smokeing!!!

Why does she assume we're asleep and don't get it? I've been awake for some time thank you, and I am not about throw my support to someone as inexperienced as this guy just because he happens to be multiracial. I find it odd that she singles out black people as not "getting it" since a whole lot of other demographics are behind Clinton.

And to those who ask what have the Clintons done for us, I find that question insulting. Guess what, there black people out here selfless enough to ask, what have the Clintons done for this country? We're not looking for welfare. Many of us happen to like the Clintons for the same reasons other Americans like them. This country prospered under them, and so did we -- as Americans.

As to Afica, Clinton did not promote the slaughter of anyone over there as far as I know. You need to confront the fact that my fellow blacks in Africa were slaughtering each other long before and long after Clinton. The first Bush decided to try some nonsensical intervention in Somalia and look where that got us. Clinton was right to ignore that mess. We have no national interest over there. Like it or not, at some that continent is going have to get its own act together, because frankly the rest of the world really doesn't care.

We get it, Michelle. We asked the the question: What has Obama done, PERIOD? And we came up with nothing.

Ms. Sweet do you and other journalist just love it when the topic turns to Black and White issues? I bet journalist have a secret nod and wink when writing such columns, and say "Just watch the fireworks on this one!" It is amazing to view one blog entry explode with opinions about something trivial. Yes, different ethnicities of the Human Race has conflicting ideology, but every now and than I simply read the posts without giving a serious opinion.

I am actually learning to laugh at this more and more as I get older. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha...

Thank you

Biggdawg, give us some examples of how the nation prospered under Clinton? Yes, the budget got balanced, but only after the GOP got control of congress, and only because we had no wars, etc. As for Somalia, am I missing something. Clinton KEPT all the troops there until our marines got dragged through the streets. Because he didn't have no back-up ready when our boys searched the cities. YES, it was UNDER Clinton when we had our kids dragged through the streets (does BlackHawk down ring a bell). Prospered, when? When he left, unemployment was 5.2%, now its 4.7%, despite losing jobs overseas and the overnight companies going down, as everybody knew they would. And when Bush had just came in office, we had the Enrons, Anderson's, etc., fall apart. Are you nieve enough to think these places weren't having any hidden problems before 2001? They were juggling the books for several years, which took in the Clinton years. There weren't more jobs then now. As the statistics show and prove. Matter of fact, downsizing started during his second term. How do I know that? Because I was one who was a recipient (victim) of downsizing. But the liberal media loved him so they were very casual in reporting what was going on. Why I still laugh at how the press played up the naval practice bombing off of Vieques Island, off the coast of Puerto Rico, after Bush came to power. Remember how Sharpton and Jackson's wife protested on the island. Why am I laughing? Because the navy practiced its bombing of that island during ALL 8 years of the Clinton presidency and the Sharpton's of the world never said a word. Why?
You find what did Clinton do for us insulting---TOUGH. Sometimes the TRUTH hurts. Its a 2-way street when it comes to criticizing. I'd like to remind you that when you dish it out, you had better also be ready to take it.

I had no intentions in voting for Obama. First, personally i feel that he has no experience. Second, what important bills did he pass when he was only a Illinois State Senator, not long ago?

His wife blew it for him, by saying black america needs to wake up. Maybe she is speaking for herself who she is black. Her husband Barack Obama is half white. He needs to do more as a U.S. Senator now, and what has he been doing since announcing for president? Why can the other candidates get tax paying secret service (24 hours).

Michelle you blew it for your husband using the "Race Card". Don't you have anything else to talk about? Maybe you should go back to work at the university of chicago or public allies and start over.

Shame on you Michelle Obama for using the race card.


"They don't stand up for the killing in there "hoods" and they

will come out and vote? What is she smokeing!!!"

Not all blacks live in the same "hoods" and not all whites walk around at night with sheets over their heads.

You used the word "there" when "their" would've been appropriate. There is no letter "e" in the word "smoking".


"Why can the other candidates get tax paying secret service (24 hours)."

Because they're not "half-black". Race matters in this country.

"Michelle you blew it for your husband using the "Race Card". Don't you have anything else to talk about?"

Why is it only a "Race Card" if blacks are being addressed; not whites, asians, or hispanics? Seeing a Presidential candidate address black citizens directly is something long overdue in America's political system.

Cesar, where were you when Mary Mitchell, the National Association of Black Journalists, Al Sharpton, and many others were asking, "Is Obama black enough?"....If thats not manipulating with the race-card, and a racist comment as far as I'm concerned, then nothing is. Especially alot more so then that finger-pointing your doing at Michelle Obama. I don't remember you questioning that. Why?

I love Obama's quote that he and his wife are not in this to win. That is as believeable as most of the other self seving statements that he makes. The only reason he is is not trying to "tear Hillary's throat out" is that he knows that it is bad "political" strategy. We got your number rock star!


"If thats not manipulating with the race-card, and a racist comment as far as I'm concerned, then nothing is."

Every Presidential candidate that white Americans have voted for in the history of America has been white. By your logic, this would mean that every white voter in America is automatically a racist.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on November 13, 2007 8:10 AM.

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