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A First Lady of a different kind

  • Story Highlights
  • Michelle Obama, wife of Barack, could become the first African-American First Lady
  • Born 44 years ago in Chicago, she attended Harvard Law school
  • Criticized for comments that US "guided by fear", "just downright mean"
  • Barack Obama tells Republicans to "lay off" his wife, attacks ads criticizing her
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By Jonathan Mann
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(CNN) -- Take a brilliant, strong-willed, American woman. Let her marry a rising politician, start a family, build a successful legal career, and then emerge as a polished public figure in her own right.

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Michelle Obama has been criticized by opponents of her husband for her comments on the U.S.

You might end up with the Hillary Clinton we've gotten to know over the years -- or with the Michelle Obama we're just being introduced to.

With Barack Obama's victory in the Oregon primary this week and his declaration of a nearly unbeatable lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton doesn't look like she'll be making history as America's first female president.

If polls predicting a Democratic victory in the November election hold true, it will be Michelle Obama who will be making history, as the first African-American First Lady. And you can expect a First Lady of a different kind.

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born 44 years ago in Chicago, like her husband, who is two-and-a-half years her senior.

But while he has campaigned on hope, she's talked about the hard realities of American life -- the gaps between rich and poor, black and white.

The US has had outspoken First Ladies before, but Obama could be the first angry one.

She's publicly criticized the US as "guided by fear" and "just downright mean."

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She said that her husband's campaign for the presidency made her proud of the United States for the first time in her adult lifetime. A lot of Americans wondered why a girl from a humble background who grew up to attend Harvard Law school and earn an attorney's handsome income should be disparaging about what her country offered her.

She tried to explain her way out of the remark and she has changed her tone dramatically in the months since. But it was too late.

Republicans turned the remark into a hard-hitting television ad, contrasting it with comments from Americans expressing simple, unwavering faith in their country.

This week, Barack Obama spoke out against the ad, calling on Republicans to "lay off" his wife, with criticism that he called distorted and "low class."

But Michelle Obama is a very visible part of the campaign and when she expresses her opinions, she can expect her listeners and her husband's opponents to express opinions of their own.

So watch what happens. Even if Hillary Clinton pulls out of the race, there is going to be another tough lady taking a few hits before she gets a chance to make history.

All About Hillary ClintonDemocratic PartyBarack ObamaJohn McCainRepublican Party

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