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Michelle: The woman beside the man

Michelle Obama will bring the skills of a corporate lawyer to the White House, but she says her priority will be her role as “mom-in-chief” to the couple’s daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.

world Updated: Nov 06, 2008 00:14 IST

Michelle Obama will bring the skills of a corporate lawyer to the White House, but she says her priority will be her role as “mom-in-chief” to the couple’s daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.

Democrat Barack Obama became the first black US president and his wife the first black first lady.

Michelle 44, is a passionate advocate for her husband’s candidacy, but she says she would not want a direct policy role in an Obama administration.

Michelle, who grew up in a blue-collar neighbourhood on the south side of Chicago and went to public school, often talks about her father — who worked for the city’s public water system — and the values instilled by her parents.

After winning scholarships to the elite universities of Princeton and Harvard law school, she worked for a law firm and in the Chicago mayor’s office. Her most recent job was vice president of the University of Chicago hospitals, where she earned more than her husband.

Barack describes his wife as his “rock,” a source of strength and a gentle critic who keeps him grounded. Their public displays of affection and her fashion sense — she has been featured in magazines such as Vogue and Essence — contribute to the candidate’s youthful image.

In a widely praised speech at the Democratic National Convention, Michelle shared details of the couple’s life together and said her husband represented typical American values. Reuters