FIRST LADY Michelle Obama won the battle of the political wives on Tuesday, September 4, says The Week in reviewing US media coverage of her address at the Democratic convention.
Her speech to the Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, made much of the difference between her husband Barack Obama's rags-to-White House upbringing and the wealthy background of his Republican opponent Mitt Romney, the son of a car industry executive.
She did it with the use of personal stories and, as The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne noted, the speech was "good enough that even Fox News was kind to her".
Dionne called it "the most devastating attack on Mitt Romney" so far at the Democratic convention. Yet the First Lady "did not mention Romney's name and said not a single cross thing about him".
He added: "She devastated him by implication. If Romney was the son of privilege, she and her husband were anything but. What she said directly is that Barack Obama understands people who are struggling. What she didn't have to say is Mitt Romney doesn't."
Kathie Obradovich, in the Des Moines Register, writes: "It was a strong speech, stronger in some ways than Ann Romney's was last week. For one thing, Michelle Obama wisely left the complaints about negative campaigning to other speakers. It wasn't the most soaring rhetoric of the night, nor the most spellbinding delivery. She spoke of her love for Barack the way she spoke of loving America - fiercely."
In a rare criticism of the First Lady, whose speech met with near-universal approval in the US media, Obradovich contrasts her "political skill", which "got in the way of a true emotional connection", with the "nonpolitical presentation" of Ann Romney.
Again, what saved Michelle were her personal stories, in particular talking about her children. "That's when her eyes turned softer, and a little brighter. That's what made this political speech into a love story."
Perhaps wise to possible Republican criticism that she is a little too politically astute, Michelle Obama made a saccharine pitch to the more family-oriented voter, saying that "my most important title is still 'mom-in-chief'."
The Boston Herald's Hillary Chabot and Joe Battenfeld said Michelle had "tried to out-mom Ann Romney". But The New York Times's Alessandra Stanley suggested Michelle, who has addressed a political convention before, had struck just the right balance. "She is now a pro. No one since Mrs Kennedy has worked the camera more astutely or more purposefully to help her husband - the best way is still to be seen as an exemplary First Lady. And she looked the part, shimmering in a silky pink sleeveless dress, smiling even more than usual as she spoke of serious things."
Michelle had a different task in Charlotte compared with her last speech at a Democratic convention, writes Howard Kurtz in The Daily Beast. In 2008, she had to dispel the image of an angry black woman who hated America. This time around she is a fashion icon who is more popular than her husband. This time she had to talk about her husband's values.
Her speech "was well crafted," says Kurtz, "nearly perfect, and perhaps reminded people disappointed in this presidency what they believed in back in 2008.