CHARLOTTE, N.C. — First lady Michelle Obama, who is scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, has won the American public's approval because she comes across as a regular person and is a champion for causes important to people, Oklahomans at the convention said.
“She's just a classy lady that can connect with everybody, and I think she does that extremely well as first lady,” said Betty Simmons, a delegate from Lawton. “The care and compassion she has shown for military families and also dealing with the obesity problem, I think those are two things that have really put her in the hearts of Americans.”
Mark Temple said the 48-year-old first lady “doesn't try to be something that she's not. She identifies with where she came from.”
Moreover, he said, she is accessible, making herself available “to anybody who wanted to speak to her, who had ideas and concerns.”
According to a Gallup poll in late May, the first lady's approval rating was 66 percent, and she is expected to appear often on the campaign trail as a surrogate for her husband. She is scheduled to address several different groups at the convention this week — including blacks and Hispanics — and participate in a USO project.
State Rep. Mike Shelton, of Oklahoma City, said the first lady has set a new standard for women around the world.
“She's changing the way people think of first ladies,'' he said. “She is a go-getter; she's not sitting in the White House worrying about the decorating.”
And state Rep. Jabar Shumate, of Tulsa, said, “She's really so down to earth … Even though you haven't met her, you feel like you know her.”
The first lady has reached out to a couple of Oklahomans for advice and promotion of her anti-obesity effort. She invited Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, who has been waging a citywide weight-loss campaign, as a guest to the 2010 State of the Union address; earlier this year, she invited Mason Carter Harvey, of Guthrie, to the White House Easter Egg Roll after learning that the seventh-grader had lost 85 pounds.
At the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., last week, Ann Romney was tasked with providing more human depth to her husband, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
State Sen. Judy Eason-McIntyre, D-Tulsa, a convention delegate, said Monday, “We know who the president is so I don't think she's going to go down that road. She will need to provide some clarity about his achievements.”
Shumate said the president has had to make many tough decisions in the past four years and that the first lady should tell Americans “that the gray hair he has comes from trying to figure out how to make this country better and safer.”