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Michelle defends, re-introduces husband

From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. -- Michelle Obama spoke to the heart of the conservative attack against her husband Wednesday morning, telling a room full of Obama supporters that it was incumbent on them to get the true picture of who her husband was out to undecided voters before Tuesday's primary.

"There are a lot of people who don't know anything about us," she said. "Anything other than the caricatures that have been painted of us in the media. And that is the nature of the process."

She claimed that if she or her husband had just had 15 or 30 minutes to individually meet with each voter, the nominating process would have ended long ago but building that degree of familiarity with the electorate was impossible.

"And the game counts on that," she said. "It counts on the fact that there's no way that all these people are really going to know who Barack Obama is, so let me paint a different picture really quickly, which hopefully will stick and will distract people from what they're really asking for anyway."

Her comments reflected on the controversies that have embroiled her husband both recently -- Rev. Wright and William Ayres -- but also to false rumors circulating about him, including photos that try to prove he doesn't put his hand over his heart during the pledge of allegiance and e-mails claiming he's a Muslim. 

Conservatives have latched onto these false rumors as well as the Wright controversy to argue that Obama is not patriotic, tarnishing his image as a post-partisan figure untainted by the ideological struggles between liberals and conservatives in the baby boom generation.

Or, as Sen. John McCain had said in an interview with Chris Matthews on Hardball, he couldn't comment on whether Obama was an elitist or not, because he just didn't know Obama that well.

Mrs. Obama embraced the argument that her husband was unknown, arguing that it established him as an "underdog."

"But anybody who's talking about change is an underdog because there's a whole system and a history that says, 'Uh-uh, we're not ready for that; We don't need that, that change is scary; you should wonder who his pastor is,'" she joked. "You know there's always something."

Using the recent attacks on Obama as an x-factor in American politics as a rallying cry for the campaign's supporters, she called the supporters in attendance the campaign's "validators." She urged them to "get on the phone," "have some arguments," heart to hearts," in order to allay the doubts voters may have about Obama.

"You know 20 other people in your lives who are afraid, who don't really understand Barack," Mrs. Obama said. "They are confused on an issue; they believe something that's not true. They think he's a Muslim; they think he's a 'this'; they think he's all the names that have come up and have stuck or not stuck. You know you've talked to these people. I would love to talk to them, but I can't."

"So this is the difficult thing. This is why it's always an uphill battle," she continued. "Folks in this country believe that, who they think they know, is safer than who they're not quite sure that they know."

She also joked about how she and her husband were labeled as elitist, while she worried about spending too much at Target, and after they had just paid off their student loans only a few years ago. She claimed that because they were so recently in debt, they were closer to the lives of the Americans they wished to represent and had a set of values that they use to practice in their politics -- unlike their political opponents. 

"Our values transcend it all," she said. "And its not that other candidates have values; it's just how they are translated in their politics. Sometimes folks who have been in this for a while, they just don't know how to be anything than what the process has been. That's why sometimes you need new blood just to shake it up a bit."