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Michelle Obama tells CBS "I know that this speech will be from Barack's heart." Transcript.

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DENVER--Michelle Obama tells CBS hours before Barack's acceptance speech,"I know that this speech will be from Barack's heart."

ABC News' anchor Charles Gibson interviewed Michelle Obama today at Invesco Field, just hours before Senator Barack Obama formally accepts the Democratic nomination there. Below is a transcript of their conversation in which Obama reveals she has not read her husband's speech and explains why she tried to convince him from entering politics, among other topics.

News organizations using any excerpts, please credit ABC's "World News with Charles Gibson."

CHARLES GIBSON

This campaign began nineteen months ago. It's been a long slog. But has the enormity of what's happened really sunk in?

MICHELLE OBAMA

It, it has gradually, um, sunk in throughout the course of this year, but tonight, you know, I think there won't be a dry eye in our family's box. You know, when you're in a venue like this, and you've got seventy thousand of your fellow Americans coming with a level of inspiration, and on this day that marks the forty-fifth anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, I mean, that is pretty powerful, even for someone like me and Barack who are so busy doing it, that sometimes you don't get a chance to, to step back. But I think tonight we'll have a chance to step back and breathe in and take it in and think about what this means for the country now, and what it'll mean for our kids in the future.

CHARLES GIBSON

I was in the room once when, watching a presidential nominee get the nomination of his party. We weren't there yesterday in the hotel room, but tell me what that moment was like, and what was said when Speaker Pelosi declared your husband to be the Democratic Presidential Nominee.

MICHELLE OBAMA

Barack and I were in the hotel room. Fortunately we were together. Um, he had just come in. We had, uh, we, we did something before hand, and we were sitting on the couch, and we turned it on, and she, we, we saw the Illinois delegation, Mayor Daley speak, and turn it over to New York. And with that click of the gavel it was done. And there was a little tear in my eye, and Barack looked at me, and he said, oh, you're crying. And I was like, a little. And we just looked at each other and said, well, that's that. Now we got to get to work.

CHARLES GIBSON

Now onto the next thing, right? This is the forty-fifth anniversary, as you mentioned. There's a lot of us at my age who were never certain we would see this day, indeed thought it was improbable that this would happen. But not much has been made of race at this convention. Why not?

MICHELLE OBAMA

You know, I think that the issues that are affecting the country really transcend race and gender and age. That's what I've been finding throughout this campaign. Um, when someone is struggling to pay to put gas in their car, when a person has lost their job and doesn't have health care, and they're worried about their kids' college education, those problems know no racial boundaries. Um, and I think that that's what America is feeling, that if we're going to, we're suffering these issues equally, and if we're going to fix them, we're going to have to work together. And these old conversations of race and the like aren't as useful as they've been. But race has been a part of this conversation. I think we've probably talked about race more in this campaign than I've heard in any presidential campaign in my lifetime. That's my lifetime, that is. So I think it's played a role, and we've come a long way. But we have a, a good way to go, and we've made some significant progress.

CHARLES GIBSON

But the fact that it hasn't been discussed much at the convention--

MICHELLE OBAMA

Oh, at the convention.

CHARLES GIBSON

Does that in any way sublimate or de-emphasize the historic nature of what has happened?

MICHELLE OBAMA

Absolutely not. I think everyone in that room felt it. There wasn't a dry eye in that room all around, and it was, I think it was for a variety of reasons. Some of it was because of what you said, there were so many people who didn't think they'd live to see the day. So many people of a variety of backgrounds who remembered that speech were there, and fought the fights, and had the hopes and dreams for the next generation. And to see it materialize in some small way, through this process, uh, I think moves the nation, no matter who you're supporting.

CHARLES GIBSON

You've read the speech?

MICHELLE OBAMA

I haven't.

CHARLES GIBSON

You have not?

MICHELLE OBAMA

I tend not to--

CHARLES GIBSON

This is on a need to know basis, is it?

MICHELLE OBAMA

You know, I like to, to feel the impact like everyone else. I mean, he started reading it, and I said, no, no, stop. Because I, I like to feel the, the same thing that everyone else is going to feel in this stadium. So, I haven't let him read it to me, I haven't asked to read it... [LAUGHS] I know, it sounds--

CHARLES GIBSON

Will there not be a little Michelle Obama in the speech as well as Barack?

MICHELLE OBAMA

You know, who knows? But I know that this speech will be from Barack's heart. Barack is not just an inspirational speaker, but you know, he just has a unique way of taking some complex issues and, um, winnowing them down into simplistic, true, and connectable thoughts and ideas. And I always enjoy watching and hearing him. So I'm looking forward to tonight, and I have no idea what he's going to say. He, he also started to tell me how the ending was going to go, and I stopped him again. I said, I don't want to know. I want to, I want to feel it tonight.

CHARLES GIBSON

You have worked... [inaudible] ...if this campaign is successful? How are you going to redirect those energies, and would you miss working?

MICHELLE OBAMA

You know, if I have the honor of being the next First Lady, trust me, I'll be working pretty hard. Um, I've always said I, I'm going to be sort of Mom In-Chief, because, I'll still have our, our little ones, and trying to help them through this transition period will be even more important then, than it will be now. Um, but there are so many issues that I care about it. I've spent the majority of this time doing women's round tables, and talking about the challenges of work/family balance. Have begun to talk about the challenges that our military spouses are facing and the, the lack of resources that they have to cope with two, three tours of duty. Not having adequate education for their kids. Not having the mental health support, the healthcare. I want to be a voice for those families. So those will be some of the issues. National Service has always been, um, a part of my life, and Barack has, uh, developed a plan to expand National Service in a way that we haven't seen since Bill Clinton was in office.

CHARLES GIBSON

So you want to pick some specific issues and focus on those.

MICHELLE OBAMA

Absolutely. Yes. Yes, I want to be useful.

CHARLES GIBSON

Every, almost every husband and wife spends a lot of time consulting with their spouse.

MICHELLE OBAMA

Mm-hmm.

CHARLES GIBSON

To what extent do you really talk things over? Did he consult you, for instance, on Vice President?

MICHELLE OBAMA

You know, we, we talked about how he was thinking about it, and I definitely knew who his final few people were but we probably do what most couples do. The first thing we talk about is our kids, how they're doing. Um, and then the, you know, the, the notion of work, our, our responsibility sort of flows as it naturally makes sense. I'll ask him, "What'd you do today? How did the day go? Who did you talk to?" He'll ask me the same thing. Uh, and through the course of those conversations, um, our opinions and our perspectives become, uh, pretty clear.

CHARLES GIBSON

The best hour of my day is when we both come home and we debrief on the day?

MICHELLE OBAMA

Yeah. Right.

CHARLES GIBSON

And trade concerns, and...

MICHELLE OBAMA

Yeah.

CHARLES GIBSON

...And consult with one another. Same with you guys?

MICHELLE OBAMA

Mm-hmm. I think in that way, we're just like every couple. Uh, and when you've been married for awhile, you, you almost already know what the other person thinks. Barack knows how I feel, on most issues, and, uh, I trust Barack's judgment implicitly. I say this all the time, in the twenty years I've known him, Barack hasn't disappointed me. I, I stopped completely questioning everything he does, I usually ask him, uh, what went into that decision, because I know that there was something there that either I don't, if I don't agree with it, it's usually because I don't have all the facts.

CHARLES GIBSON

Play devil's advocate?

MICHELLE OBAMA

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

CHARLES GIBSON

To the point that he gets a little fed up, or...?

MICHELLE OBAMA

You know, no.

CHARLES GIBSON

...To back off.

MICHELLE OBAMA

No, well, you know, now, after this nineteen months, we just don't have the time that we have usually. He's so happy to see me that it takes a, a bit to get under his skin

CHARLES GIBSON

I did an interview with him a number of months ago, and one of the things he said that surprised me is, he said, "I knew back in law school, that I had a capacity to lead."

MICHELLE OBAMA

Mm-hmm.

CHARLES GIBSON

"And that I would lead in life."

MICHELLE OBAMA

Mm-hmm.

CHARLES GIBSON

What did he tell you about that, before you got married? What did he tell you his ambitions were?

MICHELLE OBAMA

It was...

CHARLES GIBSON

Did he ever mention the word "President"?

MICHELLE OBAMA

No, no. We would have intense debates about, how do you make change, and what's the, the, the most effective way to do that. And as he sort of moved through his career, you know, you can see how the choices have played out. It started out very much at the grass roots as the community organizer. Saw the limitations of when you bump up against laws and policies that you can't change. That led him to get to politics. And the further he got into it, the further up he believed you needed to be to really affect broad-based change. Now, I played devil's advocate then, and said politics is not, you know, an instrument for change, because, you know, most Americans are so cynical. So we would have these debates throughout our courtship, uh, throughout our relationship. I always was convinced that he was too smart to go into politics.


And I always tried to talk him out of it. But he always talked me into it.

CHARLES GIBSON

And when was the first time you really realized, he's going to do this...

MICHELLE OBAMA

Mm-hmm.

CHARLES GIBSON

...Son of a gun, he might even win it?

MICHELLE OBAMA

Yeah. Uh, I came to a new realization, with every race. Um, because the conversation usually was, "I think I'm going to run for the State Senate." "Oh, please don't." Uh, and then he would tell me why, uh, and I would agree with him. And then I'd think about the man that he was, and the kind of politician that I would want to lead this country, and I always felt that it would be selfish for me to stand in the way of having a man like him engaged. We, I, I would have that debate with myself, at every level. Uh, and I always thought, Well, this is the last time, he's certainly not going to do this. He's not going to, he's not going to be the US Senator, uh, he's going to lose that and then we can move on. Uh, but he has continued to amaze me. Uh, with, um, every move that he's made, with every decision that he's made. Uh, and I am proud, so proud, uh, of what he's accomplished, and I'm glad that I didn't stand in the way. 'Cause I think he's been, can do some great things.

CHARLES GIBSON

Enjoy the night. This is quite a setting.

MICHELLE OBAMA

It's amazing.

CHARLES GIBSON

It is an extraordinary place, and when you fill it with seventy-five thousand people tonight, I suspect it'll give you a chill or two.

MICHELLE OBAMA

That's going to be the special part about it. Um, being able to share this with so many Americans who usually don't have access to this part of the process. Um, I am probably the most proud of Barack and his campaign for that. Uh, that every step of the way, they thought about how to engage more people, and this is just par for the course. So, uh, it's a night that we can all celebrate. Um, so we're going to have a good time.

CHARLES GIBSON

Enjoy.

MICHELLE OBAMA

Thank you.

CHARLES GIBSON

Great pleasure to meet you.

MICHELLE OBAMA

Thank you so much.

1 Comment

I love Michelle Obabma, she is truly an amazing woman. Her speech was phenomenal. I pray that Barack does win so that we can receive some true blessings from God through a man who's very name means blessing.

God Bless this Family tremendously for their obedience in allowing you to use them for your Glory

Amen, Amen, Amen!!!

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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 August 28, 2008 7:26 PM.

Lynn Sweet talks about covering her first convention with Huffington Post Rachel Sklar. was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama's acceptance speech. Full text as prepared. is the next entry in this blog.

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