Michelle Obama declared life experiences "make you who you are" in a convention pitch Tuesday to US voters that set up stark contrasts between her husband and wealthy rival Mitt Romney.
"Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it -- and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we're from, or what we look like, or who we love," the First Lady said.
She did not mention the Romneys by name but detailed the hardships she and President Barack Obama had endured during hard-scrabble lives that made them acutely aware of the problems they were trying to solve for ordinary Americans.
"Barack was raised by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills, and by grandparents who stepped in when she needed help," she said.
"Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. So in the end, for Barack, these issues aren't political -- they're personal. He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids."
The speech was clearly intended to draw stark contrasts with Obama's rival in November, a multi-millionaire businessman born into privilege as the son of former presidential candidate and American Motors chairman George Romney.
Democrats have made hay out of the wealth issue throughout the presidential campaign, attacking Romney for keeping much of his estimated $250 million fortune in offshore havens and asking why he will not release more tax returns.
"Barack and I were both raised by families who didn't have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable -- their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice, and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves," Michelle Obama said.
"For Barack, success isn't about how much money you make, it's about the difference you make in people's lives."
With just nine weeks to go before America votes, the race remains too-close-too-call.