What makes Michelle Obama an effective Clinton campaigner?

The first lady told Virginia voters that the Democratic candidate has a unique resume and devotion to public service that make her an ideal candidate for the presidency. 

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
First lady Michelle Obama speaks during a campaign rally in support of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016, at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

First lady Michelle Obama hit the campaign trail for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton this week, where she may be just the boost Mrs. Clinton's campaign needs.

After a well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention, Mrs. Obama is on a hot streak. Her decision to emphasize Clinton’s public service resume and the historic nature of Clinton’s campaign could become key to generating excitement about a Clinton presidency, particularly among younger voters.

“Because she believes that she has an obligation to use her talents to help as many people as possible – that is why she’s running,” said Obama. “Now, let me tell you, that is what dedication looks like. That is what love of country looks like. So when I hear folks saying they don’t feel inspired in this election – well, let me tell you, I disagree. I am inspired.”

Obama is known as an endlessly positive speaker, a woman who can unite a room around shared hopes and plans for the future without divisive political rhetoric. Her speech at the DNC electrified Democratic voters, as she refuted claims that the United States is in decline.

The historic changes taking place in this country – a woman running for president, an African-American president in the White House – mean that the United States is in a better place now than it has ever been, she said.

“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this, right now, is the greatest country on earth,” said Obama.

And a Clinton presidency is the way to keep the United States on that trajectory of success and progress, she emphasized.

“Because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters – and all our sons and daughters – now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States,” Obama said in July. 

After endlessly repeated accusations of untrustworthiness that have dogged the Clinton campaign, Obama’s professed faith in the candidate may provide a needed breath of fresh air. She has established herself as reluctant to join the political fray, making her enthusiasm for Clinton all the more striking.

Furthermore, Obama is in a unique position to understand the demands of the nation’s highest executive office, a fact that she used to Clinton’s advantage during her address in Virginia.

Although she never mentioned Clinton’s Republican challenger, Donald Trump, Obama told rally attendees that the traits a candidate displays on the campaign trail do not disappear with the presidency. Instead, flaws are thrown into further relief as the president faces difficult decisions, she said.

Obama then reminded voters of Clinton’s resume, her commitment to change, and her persistence and devotion to serving the American people, adding that Clinton is uniquely prepared to serve as president due to her decades of experience. 

Her message seemed to find its mark. As former Bernie Sanders voter and George Madison college student Victoria Johnson told the Wall Street Journal, "Hearing from Michelle … it’s like, ‘OK, yeah!’ "

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