2012 Democratic Convention: What the Pundits Are Saying About Michelle Obama, Julian Castro

10:07 PM PST 09/04/2012 by THR Staff
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Michelle Obama

The event kicked off Tuesday night in Charlotte, N.C., with a flurry of speeches including those from the First Lady and the mayor of San Antonio, who delivered the keynote address.

As the first night of the Democratic National Convention wrapped, the pundits took to the airwaves and to Twitter to praise the event, especially the performances of First Lady Michelle Obama and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.

In her speech, Obama focused on talking about her and her husband's humble beginnings, noting that both had to take out student loans and that the president's most prized possession at one time was a coffee table that had been retrieved from a dumpster.

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Castro, meanwhile, made history as the first Latino to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic National Convention. In his speech, he spoke about his own family's beginnings as immigrants.

"I though Michelle Obama knocked it out of the park, as you Americans would say," CNN's Piers Morgan said, adding that she "looked sensational and .... I thought she really hit the right tone. [The audience was] crying out for exactly what she gave."

CNN's John King noted that there were some mistakes, including the Democrats' decision to drop the word "God" from its platform as well as dropping its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Still, "in terms of TV production, they put on a very good show," he added.

Also on CNN, chief political analyst Gloria Borger noted that the First Lady likely swayed many voters who were on the fence and that, overall, the Democrats so far have been superior to the Republicans in their addresses.

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"I don't know if the Democrats give better speeches or have better speechwriters, but they are giving great speeches," she said, to which Morgan added that they are presenting a "coherent message."

Borger also said there seemed to be "more energy" on the convention floor in Charlotte than there was last week in Tampa, Fla. She added that the night seemed to be free of cynicism and overall "uplifting."

Fox News' Bret Baier, meanwhile, noted that Obama included one line in her speech that likely will ruffle Republicans' feathers.

"She said that for Barack Obama, there is no such thing as us or them, he doesn't care if you're a Democrat or Republican or none of the above," Baier said. "I think Republican's reactions might be different than what we saw in this hall, judging by what happened on Capitol Hill in the last couple of years."

His Fox News colleague Chris Wallace said he had read the text of Obama's speech beforehand and thought it was "OK."

"But her delivery was masterful," he said. "It seemed to come totally from the heart."

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He added: "When this evening began, the Obama campaign said Michelle Obama is the most popular political figure in this country, and I could certainly understand why."

Wallace did take issue with her stance that we are "all one America."

"That's certainly not the way the president has run his campaign, which has been quite partisan and quite negative," he said, adding that she also made a point to praise government's central role, which was "very different from what the Republicans heard last week in Tampa."

James Carville, political strategist-turned-commentator, was effusive about the first night of the convention.

"The quality of speechmaking was extraordinary; it was an extraordinary night," adding that it was also a "great night" and an "incredible night."

MSNBC's Chris Matthews said that Castro's keynote address was "one of the greatest speeches I've ever heard," pointing to his comments about immigration and his argument that no matter the background, all immigrant experiences are similar.

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"He said that Latinos are brought up to be self-reliant and not to rely on government ... but don't expect to be victims of society or needy people," he said. "To say that Latinos' dreams are parallel with other people's ... it was a fresh, very alive statement about the American dream. It's nothing to do with wanting to have a dependency on government."

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, meanwhile, pointed to what she saw as a big difference between the DNC and RNC on that topic.

"The difference is that tonight we got policy discussion about how America should treat current immigrants, which we got none of last week. They were talking about it last week as if it was something that used to be awesome and happened a long time ago but for now, 'You gotta go.'"

Several TV personalities hit Twitter to weigh in on Michelle Obama, including CNN colleague Anderson Cooper, who wrote: "I've never heard such a well delivered speech by a first lady ever."

NBC News' Chuck Todd also tweeted about the First Lady: "From my floor vantage point: Michelle Obama owned this convention in a way I didn't see anyone own Tampa. She is clearly personally beloved."

Bill Weir, co-anchor of ABC' Good Morning America Weekend Edition, chimed in: "What do you bet that at some point Michelle turned to Barack and said, "You still smiling about that little 2004 speech? Watch this."

Added The Washington Post's Ezra Klein: "Barack Obama always jokes that Michelle gives the better speech. I'm starting to think that's actually true."

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