Michelle Obama woos gays, military families in campaign video

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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First lady Michelle Obama increasingly is being used by the campaign to boost the president’s support among African-American women, military families and gays.

Her campaign priorities are showcased in a June 3 post on the campaign website which features the first lady warning supporters about the steps needed to register, lauding gays, lesbians and military families.

Service members “are fighting for the country we all love… they [and their families] never complain, they just keep on moving forward,” she said, echoing President Barack Obama’s repeated calls for voters to persevere during a time of record unemployment, debt and deficits.

“We are both committed to doing everything we can do to support [military families… including] providing them with the full range of benefits they’ve earned,” she said.

The first lady’s tone in the video is a sharp change from her widely panned remarks in 2008.

In Feb. 2008, she declared that “for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,” and in March 2008 that the United States is “just downright mean.”

The first lady has been stepping up her role in the 2012 campaign since last year, and she is a regular on the fundraising circuit — especially for audiences of women or African-Americans. She’s also made multiple appearances alongside Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, to boost the campaign’s outreach to military families.

Roughly one-sixth of servicemen and women are African-American. They’re especially important because many military families live in three battleground states: Florida, Virginia and North Carolina.

Obama’s 6 minute, 27-second video is featured at the campaign’s website, and portrays her answering selected questions from supporters.

Her video initially offers encouragement and advice to organizers. “We succeeded back in 2008 because of our tireless volunteers and grassroots supporters,” she said, while also warning about recent changes in state registration laws.

She uses the next question to compliment the Obama campaign for picking high-achieving women, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The answer slides into a call for women to stay involved in politics, while showing African-American women visiting a neighborhood to solicit support for Obama.

The final question she addresses focuses on gay and lesbian voters, who are increasingly being wooed by the campaign since Obama’s May 9 personal endorsement of same-sex marriage.

The endorsement was viewed as politically risky because it clashes with the deeply-held views of many working-class whites and African-Americans, who see traditional marriage as a vital institution for child rearing.

Despite the president’s endorsement, gay marriage still faces steep political opposition, with even left-leaning California voting in 2008 to recognize only those marriages comprised of one man and one woman.

Michelle Obama doesn’t use her video to persuade swing-voters to support the decision, but simply declares that “discriminating against same-sex couple just isn’t right.”

“It’s as simple as that,” she declares.

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