"I think that we as a country have been a little lax in… our concern for these issues," she said. "We've been nullified by the fear mongers, you know? It's almost as if people have voted against their best personal issue interests because they've been so afraid of what could happen. You know, the terrorists are gonna get us."
"[Terrorism is] an incredibly important concern, but where is the balance, you know… is really the question -- where is the balance?" she continued. "You have to be a respected player. You have to do a little bit of both. So that nonideological, a nonfear-based approach is really what we need now as a country."
In 2003, Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator, and he was one of very few voices speaking out against war with Iraq.
"You can't do the 'I told you so.' We're in a war. We have young men and women over there fighting right now, and we have to think pragmatically about bringing this to an end. That's the conversation now. That was then. This is now," Obama said of her husband's position. "We have to deal with Iraq today… is what he has been saying. And, again, you can't take a rash approach. You can't just pull folks out. You can't just cut off funding completely. You've got to unravel this thing in a… common sense way. So, that's how I, I would say he'd answer the question."
Although Obama is one of her husband's closest advisers, she said they both do their jobs independently.
"Barack and I have always been professionally independent, and I like it like that," she said. "I don't want to do my husband's job, and I don't want him to do mine. So… we're focused on our day-to-day life and existence and making sure that we stay whole. And I would say that in that respect, that's where I'm his biggest adviser."
When asked whether she would be more like Laura Bush or like Clinton as first lady, Michelle Obama said she tried to avoid comparisons.
"I say that because it is so hard to project out realistically what life will be like for me as a woman, for me as a mother when Barack… becomes president. It's hard to know," she said. "What I do know is that given the many skills that I have on so many different levels, I will be what I have to be at the time. And it really will depend on what the country needs, what my family needs, what Barack needs. So I want to remain flexible enough so whatever is needed of me, that's what I will do."