Michelle Obama is getting laughs at the Oakleaf Village of Columbus retirement home in Ohio as she talks about her mother, "an active 70-year-old who does yoga," who treats her granddaughters Sasha and Malia -- the daughters of Michelle and Sen. Barack Obama -- "like queens," letting them eat ice cream and jump on the sofa.
"And I wonder: Who is this?" Michelle says, suggesting that her parents were a lot more strict with her as a little girl growing up. The grandparents in the room nod knowingly and chuckle.
After Michelle praises her husband as a leader, as a man, as a father and as "the next president of the United States," the senator claims a similar disconnect.
"She never says such nice things about me at home!" he smiles. "I really enjoy listening to her praise me like that because when I get home she'll remind me that I didn't make the bed."
This is the Michelle Obama that the Obama campaign wants Americans to get to know -- not the "Mrs. Grievance" depicted with an angry scowl on the cover of the conservative National Review, or "His Bitter Half," as conservative columnist Michelle Malkin called her.
Some of the conservative attacks are even less subtle. Fox News Channel depicted her loving fist-bump with her husband the night he clinched enough delegates to win the Democratic presidential nomination as a "terrorist fist jab" and a chyron on Fox News identified Michelle Obama as "Obama's Baby Mama," urban slang for an ex-girlfriend with whom one has fathered an out-of-wedlock child.
The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune followed up with other stories probing why the woman once seen as a potential African-American Jackie Kennedy risks becoming more of a liability, a black Teresa Heinz Kerry.
At a posh fundraiser for the Democratic Party's White House Victory Fund Thursday night Obama told supporters that their opponents are "going to try to make me into a scary guy. They're even trying to make Michelle into a scary person."
As the general election kicks into gear, the Obama campaign wants Americans to instead meet the woman whom friends describe as clever and warm, who will pull up a sixth chair on "The View" next Wednesday to chat about "hot topics" and interview actor Matthew Broderick. (Michelle Obama has been studying up on Broderick and his wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, to prepare.) She's been leading a number of public forums with military wives, which campaign aides say she finds rewarding and her husband sometimes refers to on the stump.
"The idea is to have people be introduced to who she really is," said Katie McCormick, Michelle Obama's spokeswoman.
For instance, after Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland introduced her today as one half of a "power couple," Michelle Obama said she thought of herself more as one-half of a team of "power parents."
Part of the rollout of "Michelle Obama 2.0" -- or "Michelle Obama 1.0" for the millions of Americans who haven't paid huge attention to the contests so far -- has been the new Obama Web site "FightTheSmears.com" set up to correct the record amid a barrage of untrue Internet rumors. Obama had resisted such a formal move, thinking it only dignified and helped spread unfounded rumors, such as the one that he's a Muslim. But after a reporter asked him last week about an apparently nonexistent videotape of Michelle using the word "whitey," he told them to set up the Web site.
Still, some of her troubles are clearly Michelle Obama's own making,