Michelle Obama Touts Husband's Values, Her Working Class Roots in Opening Speech

On the first night of their National Convention, Democrats in Denver launched a charm offensive in an effort to reintroduce Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., to the country and create a healthy gap in the polls against his Republican rival that has so far proved elusive.

After one of the most bitter primary battles in modern political history, Democrats kicked off the convention with a focus on Obama's life, his support from Democrats' unofficial royal family and its ailing leader, Sen. Ted. Kennedy, D-Mass., and an address from his wife, potentially the first African American first lady.

And Tuesday, the Democrats will hear from the party's other first lady, Sen. Hillary Clinton. The woman who battled Obama for the nomination is expected to make an appeal to her disappointed supporters to back Obama and help end what Democrats fear could be a dangerous split in the ranks.

A Clinton aide has told ABC News' chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos that the New York senator intends to "blow the roof" with her speech tonight.

But on the convention's opening night, it was up to Michelle Obama to try to fend off criticism that her husband is elitist and out of touch. She touted her husband's values as a husband and father, and highlight her working class roots at a time when the campaign is seeking the support of blue collar voters that supported Clinton during the primaries.

"I come here as a daughter -- raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker, and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother's love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters," she said.

Michelle spoke openly about her late father who she called "her rock."

"Although he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in his early thirties, he was our provider, our champion, our hero," she said. "As he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk, it took him longer to get dressed in the morning. But if he was in pain, he never let on. He never stopped smiling and laughing - even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my Mom a kiss. He just woke up a little earlier, and worked a little harder."

In a nod to her husband's former primary rival, Michelle Obama thanked Clinton and acknowledged her 18 million supporters.

"I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history - knowing that my piece of the American Dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me," she said. "People like Hillary Clinton, who put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that our daughters - and sons - can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher."

"People like Joe Biden, who's never forgotten where he came from, and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again," she said of Obama's vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.

As his wife spoke to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Barack Obama was watching the speech via webcast in Kansas City, Missouri, at the home of voters Jim and Alicia Giradeau in the battleground state.

He appeared afterwards on a huge plasma screen, waving to Michelle and Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, who came out to hug their mother after her speech.

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