Krissah Thompson notes that the First Lady's biggest opportunity tonight is to cash in on her own popularity with independents:
As she prepares for the convention, Obama is one of the most popular political figures in the country, viewed favorably by nearly seven in 10 Americans. That means she can sell her husband, who is considerably less popular, rather than having to sell herself, as she did four years ago, when she was the less liked of the two.
Lois Romano contrasts Michelle's approach with Ann Romney's:
What she won’t do, sources say, is make the same kind of overt appeal to women that Ann Romney did with her “I love women” squeal in Tampa. “Mrs. Obama reflects a highly educated professional partnership with her husband that naturally appeals to modern women,” [director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University Ruth] Mandel says. “Mrs. Romney’s message was a message that seemed to reflect an old-fashioned domestic bliss time of white picket fences….”
Meanwhile, Michael Scherer explains why her speech tonight ranks lower than other outreach efforts:
The national press is never going to lead its coverage with a campaign speech by the President’s wife, filled with mostly canned rhetoric. So the Chicago operation has crafted a different strategy to push the First Lady onto the nation…, [sending] her out to do the rounds on television shows where few politicians dare to tread.
Obama invites a camera crew from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to Washington to film a skit in the East Room and challenges Ellen DeGeneres to a push-up contest on daytime TV…. She reads off David Letterman’s top 10 list while holding a plastic mold of her husband as a head of broccoli and parries questions about his teenage marijuana use with The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. There are appearances on iCarly, The View, Good Morning America, the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, among others.
That last show got ratings on a par with those for the networks’ nightly newscasts, but the numbers matter less than the demographics. There are some audiences that only Obama can reach, they say around headquarters, and she does it well.
(Photo: A man uses a mobile phone to photograph the US First Lady Michelle Obama as she takes part in a sound check in the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 3, 2012. By Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)