Michelle Obama, speaking as her husband may have the Democratic presidential nomination within his grasp, told a Chicago luncheon crowd Friday that she's more convinced than ever he is ready for the office.
"I'm particularly proud of my husband, who has handled himself with dignity and with strength and with grace," Obama said of the long campaign, as she addressed about 1,800 people, mostly women, at McCormick Place.
Obama, offering brief remarks before featured speaker Valerie Plame Wilson took the podium, hit the main talking points of her husband's campaign.
Introduced by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, the luncheon's sponsor, as "the next first lady of the United States," Obama described roundtable discussions with women that she has hosted as she's campaigned across the country. Obama said she has heard repeatedly from women worried about inadequate health care and stagnant wages in the face of rising prices for food, fuel and other items.
Obama may have struck a chord with suburban residents in her audience by saying, "More working women are finding they have longer commutes so that their children are in day care more than they're with their families."
Responding to questions about how the Obamas' two young daughters have handled the campaign, she called both "amazing little troupers" who "demonstrate joy for life and kindness and respect for others that would make any mother proud."
Obama, speaking not far from her Hyde Park home, said she arranges her campaign schedule to be away from home no more than one night per week.
Speaking with reporters before the "Ultimate Women's Power Luncheon," which she sponsors annually, Schakowsky shrugged off recent exit polls that have as many as a third of Hillary Clinton voters saying they will vote for John McCain in November if Obama wins the Democratic nomination.
"At the end of the day, Democrats do not want a third Bush term," Schakowsky said, echoing the Democratic strategy of linking the GOP nominee as often as possible to a president whose approval ratings continue to sink.
Wilson, the former CIA operations officer whose identity was revealed by a former Bush aide, outlined the events that led to her blown cover. It was made public by former White House chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was eventually convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Wilson has written a book about the experience and has filed a civil suit related to those events against Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney, former President Bush adviser Karl Rove and Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state.