Michelle Obama: Barack Is No Elitist

Potential first lady weighs in on ads mocking her husband as a celebrity.

ByABC News via logo
August 6, 2008, 6:50 PM

Aug. 6, 2008 — -- First lady hopeful Michelle Obama says that a recent John McCain campaign ad characterizing her husband as a self-involved celebrity on the order of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears has it all wrong.

"It's funny to have anybody characterize Barack as an elitist," Obama told "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts during an exclusive interview.

"You know, this is the kid who was raised by a single mother, who didn't have access to many resources, who, you know, has walked away his entire life from lucrative careers to work in the community," she said of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. "This guy, you know... he personifies all of what, you know, we hope that our kids can be."

Obama said she rarely watches opponent's ads, but heard about the McCain video that mocks Barack Obama as "the biggest celebrity in the world" and questions his ability to lead the country.

The ad used pictures of socialite-actress Hilton and the troubled diva Spears along with shots of Obama presiding over a massive campaign event to imply that he's more of a celebrity than a possible commander in chief.

Michelle Obama said she tries not to get distracted by opposition ads and stay focused on issues like the price of gas, jobs and health care. "It's really all that the American people really care about," she said.

She was equally dismissive of a New Yorker magazine cover that depicted her as a black nationalist militant and her husband as an Islamist militant in the White House.

"This is tacky," she remembered thinking when she saw the cover.

Michelle Obama brightened, however, remembering "this great article about me in Ebony. You know, so there is up and down, good and bad."

Roberts spent the day on Wednesday with Michelle Obama in Virginia as she met with military families and attended a fundraiser with Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, a man who might become her husband's running mate.

But she was most excited about the family's impending vacation in Hawaii, where Obama spent much of his life being raised by his maternal grandparents. His grandmother is still alive.

One thing Michelle Obama is not looking forward to while on vacation are the "mean games of Scrabble" that are a favorite in the Obama homestead.

"He and his sister Maya, oh, they are deadly, in fact," Michelle Obama said. "Sometimes we all just walk away and let them, you know, compete into the night."

The Democratic candidate's spouse spent time with several military families in Virginia, listening to their problems as part of her campaign to champion the families of the country's soldiers.

"There is little assistance to help those who are affected by the downturn in the markets," she said. "Right now many [military] families are facing foreclosure."

Michelle Obama said she will take what she learns back to her husband.

"I'd want to remind him that when we send our troops to war, the families go with them, and that we have to keep the funding in line to make sure that we're making sure that these families are whole and healthy, and that they're not just surviving, but they're thriving," she told Roberts.

Obama rejected the suggestion that her appearances with the military families are just photo opportunities.

"For me this is real, this is personal," she said. "I hope to continue to do this, no matter what the outcome of the election is in November."