On "family day" at the Democratic National Convention, we visited with two longtime pals of Sen. Barack Obama and his wife Michelle and learned two things: Michelle is sick and tired of all the stuff the blogs are writing about her and plans to push back in her address to the convention tonight and the campaign always expected to be even with Sen. John McCain in the polls going into the four-day party here in Denver.
First Michelle: After taking it on the chin for months for allegedly being unpatriotic or worse, she will use her speech tonight to present her own story. At a breakfast with Obama pals and advisers, 17-year friend Valerie Jarrett said that Michelle will have her first chance to tell her family's story and address some of the Internet tales about her as well as some of her own words that have been viewed negatively. Jarrett said that many stories about her friend are "a complete distortion" of who Michelle is and she's eager to take them on. But mostly her speech will "give some shape to what moves them individually and as a couple." Obama is expected to first talk about her Chicago upbringing and how she has raised her own family while also being a working mom. Then she will turn to her husband's upbringing as the son of a single mom and how that shaped who he has become, at least as a dad. Jarrett, for example, said that Michelle is likely to talk about how her husband's dad fled their family when he was two and how Barack Obama has pledged to be a "better father" than his dad was.
Next, the polls: With Jarrett at breakfast was Sen. Dick Durbin, the senior senator from Illinois. He claimed that the Obama campaign fully expected the polls to even after Obama's recent trip to the Middle East and Europe and they expectedly fell further when the senator took a vacation this month. He added that the Russian invasion of Georgia helped McCain move above Obama in some polls, presumably because McCain took a very hard and public line against Moscow. But he said that the polls are irrelevant until the conventions are over and the public starts paying attention to the race. Durbin's is an interesting take on the drop in Obama's polling because before the Democrat went overseas, the campaign fully expected a bump in the polls. It never came. Still, Durbin sounds confident that the campaign can turn it around here in Denver.