Thousands of Democrats at the Denver party convention cheered US presidential candidate Barack Obama's wife Michelle as she vowed her husband would be an "extraordinary president".
The National Democratic Convention got underway on Monday with a keynote speech from the wife of presidential hopeful Barack Obama, Michelle Obama. The potential first lady was received with a standing ovation from the 4,200 party delegates and kept the enthusiasm high throughout her speech.
“This crowd has absolutely loved her,” said FRANCE 24 correspondent Catherine Galloway from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. “She has done incredibly well at introducing herself and introducing her husband to the American people.”
Although Michelle Obama has made many campaign appearances and has strongly advocated for her husband, especially in front of women voters, her speech to the Convention was her first solo appearance before a major national audience. Millions of viewers tuned in their televisions on Monday night to hear Michelle Obama retell her husband’s life story.
“Michelle’s tone was quiet and very dignified throughout,” said Galloway. Barack Obama's wife invoked the ‘change’ her husband has made central to his campaign, and spoke of her husband as an exceptional man, with an exceptional story, but who shared the same down-to-earth values as common Americans.
“That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets the new tide of hope. This is why I love this country,” said Michelle Obama, who has been attacked by Republicans as being unpatriotic.
Family and party unity
Her appearance also had an overt appeal to family unity. Michelle Obama’s brother and Barack Obama’s sister shared moments on the Convention stage, and at the end of her speech, Michelle Obama was joined by her two daughters, who blew kisses to their father, appearing on a live feed from Kansas City, and to the crowd.
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Michelle Obama also paid respect to her husband’s former campaign rival Hillary Clinton. “She did give a very warm salute to Hillary Clinton and all that she has done for the county in this campaign,” reported Galloway from the Convention floor. Hillary Clinton will address the Convention on August 26, and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, is scheduled to appear the following day before the party’s delegates.
Opening night of the Democratic Convention was also the place to reconcile what has been called a divided Democratic party. Senator Joseph Biden, recently named as Obama’s running mate, did not take the stage, but was seated among the delegates and had many prominent close-ups on camera.
The spotlight was also cast on senior Democrat Edward “Ted” Kennedy, who despite being diagnosed with brain cancer made a surprise appearance on Monday night. Kennedy is one of the most respected Democratic veterans and his endorsement of Barack Obama gave a major boost to the candidate in his campaign for the party’s nomination.
The convention will end Thursday with the much-anticipated acceptance speech from Barack Obama in the 75,000 seat arena in the Colorado capital, where the excitement is only beginning to peak. A US television station reported Monday that four people had been arrested under allegations of plotting to kill the Democratic candidate.
Date created : 2008-08-26