First lady addresses women, young voters
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 00:09
A week after Ann Romney captured the nation’s attention at the Republican National Convention with attempts to woo women voters and elicit softer images of a personable, caring former Gov. Mitt Romney, First Lady Michelle Obama attempted to do the same at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) with one additional demographic: young voters.
Stacy Dolan, a junior majoring in political science and secretary of College Democrats at USF, said the speech was enough to revitalize Obama’s campaign.
“With that speech, I am so excited to go into this season,” she said. “It set the tone of passion and excitement, and it resonated with every single soul in the stadium.”
As the First Lady spoke of her husband, the average “guy who’d picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door” and “the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small,” she told stories of the couple’s early days in an attempt to connect with many young people.
The First lady spoke of her father, who prioritized paying for her and her brother’s tuition and student loans and her husband’s value for education.
Obama addressed college students in a conference call earlier in the day and shared more stories about the first couple’s relatability to college students.
“Barack and I know what it feels like,” she said during the call. “I always remember what life was like when Barack and I started life together. We were holding down jobs and out of school and we had bought our very first condominium and we found that our combined monthly student loan bill was actually higher than our first mortgage. It wasn’t until eight years ago that we finally finished paying off our student loan bills.”
The First Lady said during her speech that the president can empathize with college students.
“Barack knows that like me and like so many of you, he never could’ve attended college without financial aid,” she said during her speech. “We were so young, so in love, and so in debt. That’s why Barack has fought so hard to increase student aid and keep interest rates down, because he wants every young person to fulfill their promise and be able to attend college without a mountain of debt.”
Dolan said President Obama’s commitment to preserving the Pell Grant demonstrates his commitment to students.
“Romney seems to think students can just get money from their parents to start a business,” she said. “He’s completely out of touch. Obama is actively working to bring people together. If we can keep this energy going, Romney ain’t got nothing on us.”
But as Ann Romney emphasized Mitt Romney “the dad” and Mitt Romney “the family man,” Michelle Obama spoke of Barack Obama at the dinner table and Barack Obama, the President who was late to the convention to ensure he could take his daughter to school on her first day of high school.
Aside from college students, women voters once again found themselves at the center of the Tuesday night convention speech. A week after Ann Romney’s “I love women!” declaration, Michelle Obama spoke of the strong role women had in her husband’s life from his single mother to the grandmother who raised him and touted her husband’s role in passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that worked toward getting equal wages for women in the workplace.
As the crowd responded with raucous approval, the First Lady, who herself has become something of a cultural symbol for strong female personas, focused largely on her husband, omitting any direct attacks on Mitt Romney or Republicans.
“In the end, for Barack, these issues aren’t political – they’re personal,” she said.
The DNC kicked off Tuesday and speakers placed heavy emphasis on women’s, LGBT and immigrant rights.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, a rising star of the Democratic party, addressed the convention as the first ever Latino keynote addresser at the DNC in a speech reminiscent of Obama’s 2004 DNC speech that elicited fervor from the audience and spoke of America as “the land of opportunity.”
The Convention will continue until Thursday, with Vice President Joe Biden accepting the Democratic nomination for Vice President tonight and President Barack Obama accepting his nomination Thursday.