From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
CANTON, OH -- Michelle Obama often refers to what she calls the "fear bomb" that was used against her husband in his Senate race, as rivals questioned whether someone with his name could be elected.
Today she acknowledged that it is happening again in his presidential race, and said it's an example of why America can't wait for a leader like him to be elected.
"They threw in the obvious, ultimate fear bomb," Obama said of her husband's 2004 Senate race. "We're even hearing [that] now. … 'When all else fails, be afraid of his name, and what that could stand for, because it's different.'" She said rivals use innuendo to play on fears. "Just as they're saying it now," she said.
But, she told about 200 supporters this morning at a restored theater in Canton, Obama won despite that "climate of negativity and doubt" in 2004, and even after standing up against the Iraq war. "We learned, number one, that when power is threatened by real change they will say anything to stop it," she said. "But we also learned that the American people can handle the truth."
What America needs, she added, is a "fundamentally different kind of leadership," one that challenges people to be different, and better to one another. And that, she said to critics who say it is not his time, cannot wait. "Barack Obama will be the kind of leader we need right now, not in four years or eight years or 12 years," she said. "We can't wait to get this right. We need it to happen today."
Mrs. Obama said her husband's effort to bring people together is grounded in the lessons he learned growing up. "You don't rip your opponents apart, because you never know when you're going to have to sit right down next to them and figure something out," she said. "That's how he was raised. Imagine a president of the United States who is trying to bring those values to the Oval Office."