NORFOLK, Va. — As the first lady readies to rally her husband’s base in Charlotte tonight, President Obama is setting the bar high, telling supporters in the battleground state of Virginia that the convention is “just like a relay, and you start out with the fastest person.”
“Whatever I say here today, it’s going to be at best a distant second to the speech you will hear tonight from the star of the Obama family, Michelle Obama,” the president told a crowd of over 11,000 at Norfolk State University, the final stop on his “Road To Charlotte” tour.
With her high favorability, the first lady is viewed as one of the Obama campaign’s greatest assets. In her opening-night speech to the Democratic convention, Mrs. Obama is expected to lay out a personal view of the president’s vision for the future of the country.
“I am going to remind people about the values that drive my husband to do what he has done and what he is going to do for the next four years,” Mrs. Obama told SiriusXM’s Joe Madison. “I am going to take folks back to the man that he was before he was president, because the truth is that he has grown so much, but in terms of his core character and values, that has not been changed at all.”
While the first lady is expected to set a positive tone, she will likely draw not-so-subtle contrasts between her husband’s background and that of his wealthier rival Mitt Romney.
“I remind people that Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. And he knows what it means to want something better for your kids and your grandkids. And that’s why I love him, and that’s why I will have his back forever,” Mrs. Obama told supporters in Davenport, Iowa, last month.
The first lady’s speech comes one week after Ann Romney similarly sought to define her husband as a father and a family man in her address to the GOP convention. Like Mrs. Romney, the first lady will also be courting female voters, which both campaigns have been targeting aggressively.
While his wife takes center stage, the president remains in Washington tonight, where he will watch the convention on TV like millions of other Americans.
“I’m going to be at home, watching it with my girls and I’m going to try not to let them see their daddy cry,” Obama said. “Because when Michelle starts talking, I start getting all misty.”
Obama heads to Charlotte tomorrow afternoon ahead of his acceptance speech Thursday night.