From NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann
PONTIAC, Mich -- In response to a question about the economic stimulus checks administered by the U.S. government earlier this year, Michelle Obama said her husband believes that short-term fixes don't solve economic problems.
"You're getting $600," she told an audience of mostly African-American women here. "What can you do with that? Not to be ungrateful or anything. But maybe it pays down a bill, but it doesn't pay down every bill every month."
"Barack's approach is that the short-term quick fix kinda stuff sounds good," she continued. "And it may even feel good that first month when you get that check. And then you go out and you buy a pair of earrings," she joked.
The Obamas have been fighting Republican attacks painting the couple as elitist. Michelle Obama, who has been something of a lightning rod for the attacks, has fought those charges by highlighting the irony between the charges and her upbringing on the South side of Chicago. But her line on earrings could be red meat for some, particularly in making them in Pontiac. The satellite city south of Detroit was once a booming auto industry town, but now the per capita income is 40% below the national average and almost a quarter of the population is below the poverty line.
Speaking about her role as a surrogate, Obama, who was speaking as part of a series of roundtables on women's issues. also admitted her trepidation about going into too much detail about her husband's policies. "I try to stay away from getting his policies wrong, because it'll be on the front page," she said. As if reading the headline of a newspaper pantomimed in her hands, she mock-read, "Barack Obama's wife says…."
To the delight of the women in the audience, and Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, who sat to Mrs. Obama's right on stage, the aspiring First Lady mimicked the resulting dispute she would have with her husband if she misrepresented his plans.
"You said WHAT?"
"Yeah, I said you were gonna do this!"
NOTE: Obama also addressed her husband's policy toward troop withdrawal from Iraq, which was in the headlines for Obama saying he would be open to "refine" his position after visiting the region. She did not mention the recent accusations of flip-flopping that her husband has faced for the comment, but she did emphasize that her husband will be "thoughtful" and take a "balanced perspective" towards ending the conflict.
"Getting out of the war will require some planning," she said. "His plan for withdrawal will begin on Day One, but it will be a thoughtful withdrawal that won't leave troops in harm's way."