CNN's Martin: 'Crazy Folks on the Right' Distort Michelle Obama

Roland Martin, CNN American Morning| NewsBusters.orgMonday’s "American Morning" featured a segment on CNN political analyst Roland Martin’s recent TV One interview with Michelle Obama which seemingly sought to counter negative assertions about Obama by Republicans and “crazy folks on the right.”

After airing a clip of Obama talking about her blue-collar upbringing, during which she stated that her story was the "quintessential American story," co-host Kiran Chetry asked Martin about how important it would be for Obama to address that in her speech at the Democratic National Convention. In his reply, Martin contended that "crazy folks on the right" are to blame for mischaracterizations of Obama, although he has previously acknowledged that "idiot Democrats" were also to blame for certain rumors:

CHETRY: Roland, how important is it going to be for her to bring that up tonight as she gives the speech?

MARTIN: It’s vital because it lays the foundation that, look, I’m just like you. I’m not, you know, I wasn’t some rich kid who went to Princeton and Harvard where I had a silver spoon in my mouth. She makes the point in the interview on TV One last night that, look, I was born in a two bedroom apartment, grew up with my brother, my dad, my mom. So, when you’re able to tell that story, you’re able to counter this different kind of version that’s been put upon her by frankly a lot of the crazy folks on the right.

CNN then played a clip of Obama reassuring people that she is proud of her country, with an on-screen graphic which read "Michelle Obama One-on-One: 'I am absolutely proud of my country.'" This clip also featured Obama declaring that she is who "Americans were supposed to be": "I have said and will continue to say that I am absolutely proud of my country and in no other place in this country could my story be possible. I mean, that’s, you know, I am here because of the opportunities that my father had, that my mother had, um, you know, we are who Americans were supposed to be."

Afterwards, Chetry ignored Obama's pretentious remarks about herself and instead focused on what Obama would have to do to convince people that she is patriotic. Martin responded to this inquiry by bashing Republicans for focusing on the character of their opponents during campaigns while also claiming that Democrats "always want to talk about the issues" and giving the Obamas some advice on how to counter Republican attacks:

MARTIN: Look, Republicans are very good, and I’ve been saying this for years, Democrats always want to talk about the issues but Republicans define elections based upon character, based upon values. "You’re not one of us, you’re not patriotic." Democrats have to respond in kindness. "Hey, wait a minute, I’m just like you. I have the same concerns." You know, I think one of the things that Obama should do, Senator Barack Obama and Michelle, say, "wait a minute, we paid our student loans off four years ago so we know what you're going through." You know, Obama should be saying, "I worked through college, I know what that feels like, I’m American just as you."

The transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:26 a.m. during the August 25 edition of CNN's "American Morning," follows:

KIRAN CHETRY, host: A live look right now at the convention hall and meanwhile Barack Obama’s hoping to reintroduce himself to voters at the convention and who better to help him with that than his wife Michelle. She is tonight’s featured speaker. CNN’s political analyst Roland Martin, who has his own radio talk show and is a syndicated columnist, sat down with Michelle in an interview for TV One. Sorry, it was hard for me to get that out. I’m so excited about the fact that you really had a chance to get a lot out of her. One of the interesting things she talked about was playing up her blue collar upbringing and she’s gonna talk about that in tonight’s speech. Let’s listen to a tiny bit of that and I’ll get your reaction.

ROLAND MARTIN: Sure.

MICHELLE OBAMA: My father was a shift worker. He worked for the city all his life, same job. Um, and as I told people, people know my father had multiple sclerosis. Um, my father had a severe disability. You know, no silver spoons, no magic, just parents who tried their best to give the next generation something a little bit more. Uh, and I think how that impacts this campaign is that that our stories are the quintessential American stories.

CHETRY: Roland, how important is it going to be for her to bring that up tonight as she gives the speech?

MARTIN: It’s vital because it lays the foundation that, look, I’m just like you. I’m not, you know, I wasn’t some rich kid who went to Princeton and Harvard where I had a silver spoon in my mouth. She makes the point in the interview on TV One last night that, look, I was born in a two bedroom apartment, grew up with my brother, my dad, my mom. So, when you’re able to tell that story, you’re able to counter this different kind of version that’s been put upon her by frankly a lot of the crazy folks on the right.

CHETRY: Her critics have taken some of the things she’s said specifically about patriotism and sort of turned them against her. She addressed that with you last night, too. Let’s listen.

[ON SCREEN GRAPHIC: MICHELLE OBAMA ONE-ON-ONE: “I AM ABSOLUTELY PROUD OF MY COUNTRY”]

OBAMA: I have said and will continue to say that I am absolutely proud of my country and in no other place in this country could my story be possible. I mean, that’s, you know, I am here because of the opportunities that my father had, that my mother had, um, you know, we are who Americans were supposed to be.

CHETRY: And Roland, you know, this is not only the convention audience but of course the nation-wide audience watching from home. If you’re sitting on your couch, what does Michelle Obama have to say for you to be convinced that, you know what, she is indeed patriotic just like all of us?

MARTIN: It boils down to selling your story. Look, Republicans are very good, and I’ve been saying this for years, Democrats always want to talk about the issues but Republicans define elections based upon character, based upon values. You’re not one of us, you’re not patriotic. Democrats have to respond in kindness. Hey, wait a minute, I’m just like you. I have the same concerns. You know, I think one of the things that Obama should do, Senator Barack Obama and Michelle, say, “wait a minute, we paid our student loans off four years ago so we know what you’re going through.” You know, Obama should be saying, “I worked through college, I know what that feels like, I’m American just as you.” If -- when Democrats allow Republicans to hit them over the head on character issues, they lose. Economy’s important, national security is important, but people do want to get the sense that, hey, I’m just like you, and that’s how I think she’s going to have to do tonight and frankly, Obama’s going to have to do the same thing in his speech. You heard Senator Joe Biden do some of that Saturday. They have to do more of that to say, “Look, I am just as American as you, my story matters as well.” So, I think that you’re gonna hear a lot of that tonight in her speech, and it’s a very compelling speech that she gives talking about her upbringing.

CHETRY: Just got a couple seconds here but I wanna ask you, is she nervous? I mean, it’s the biggest speech of her life she’s gonna give tonight.

MARTIN: Uh, you know what, I’ve seen her speak before crowds and her campaign, I mean the Obama campaign, they call her the closer. Don’t be surprised if she brings it tonight and so she may put the pressure on her husband to give a better speech on Thursday.

CHETRY: All right, Roland Martin, great job with that interview. I’m glad you got to share some of it with us today. Thanks.

MARTIN: Thanks, Kiran.