Tuesday night in Charlotte, NC, First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a speech at the Democratic National Convention about her and her husband's humble upbringings, about hard work, about being a mother and about why Americans should vote for her husband, President Barack Obama.
Just a week ago, Ann Romney, the wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney took the stage in Tampa, FL and delivered a speech about about how her parents and Mitt's parents had humble beginnings and how she and Mitt lived like other college students did, about hard work, about being a mother, and about why Americans should give her husband a chance.
The themes were similar, but the subtle differences showed who each woman was hoping to reach. Some would say that Ann was hoping to reach mothers and Michelle was hoping to reach those who are working hard or are struggling financially.
Here are excerpts from Michelle's speech delivered Tuesday night:
We learned about dignity and decency – that how hard you work matters more than how much you make…that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.
We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters…that you don't take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules…and success doesn't count unless you earn it fair and square.
We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean…and we were taught to value everyone's contribution and treat everyone with respect.
Those are the values Barack and I – and so many of you – are trying to pass on to our own children.
That's who we are...
Because today, I know from experience that if I truly want to leave a better world for my daughters, and all our sons and daughters…if we want to give all our children a foundation for their dreams and opportunities worthy of their promise…if we want to give them that sense of limitless possibility – that belief that here in America, there is always something better out there if you're willing to work for it…then we must work like never before…and we must once again come together and stand together for the man we can trust to keep moving this great country forward…my husband, our President, President Barack Obama.
Michelle described the work ethic of her and Barack's parents just as Ann did. Michelle's father, diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, worked as a pump operator at the city water plant using a walker. Barack's grandmother helped raise him and climbed as far as she could before hitting a glass ceiling at a bank.
Ann's father, a Welsh immigrant who came to the U.S. at 15, built a business and became a mayor. Mitt's father was a carpenter, who became the head of a car company and later became a governor.
Ann remembered when Mitt was nervous dating her in high school and how in college, they used an ironing board as a dining room table. Michelle remembers meeting Barack at the law firm where they both worked and he picked her up in a car so rusted-out that she could see the ground below through a hole in the car floor. She talked about how they each had a great deal of debt from student loans.
Although each woman talked about how much she loved her husband, it was Ann who used love as the theme of her speech. Here are excerpts from her speech on Aug. 28:
Tonight I want to talk to you about love.
I want to talk to you about the deep and abiding love I have for a man I met at a dance many years ago. And the profound love I have, and I know we share, for this country.
I want to talk to you about that love so deep only a mother can fathom it — the love we have for our children and our children's children.
And I want us to think tonight about the love we all share for those Americans, our brothers and sisters, who are going through difficult times, whose days are never easy, nights are always long, and whose work never seems done.
It's the moms of this nation — single, married, widowed — who really hold this country together. We're the mothers, we're the wives, we're the grandmothers, we're the big sisters, we're the little sisters, we're the daughters.
You know it's true, don't you? You're the ones who always have to do a little more.
You know what it's like to work a little harder during the day to earn the respect you deserve at work and then come home to help with that book report which just has to be done. You know what those late night phone calls with an elderly parent are like and the long weekend drives just to see how they're doing. You know the fastest route to the local emergency room and which doctors actually answer the phone when you call at night...
You are the best of America. You are the hope of America. There would not be an America without you. Tonight, we salute you and sing your praises.
I'm not sure if men really understand this, but I don't think there's a woman in America who really expects her life to be easy. In our own ways, we all know better!...
You can trust Mitt.
He loves America. He will take us to a better place, just as he took me home safely from that dance. Give him that chance. Give America that chance.