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Michelle Obama not offended by 'that one' comment

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  • Michelle Obama talks to Larry King in an interview Wednesday night
  • She responds to her husband being referred to as "that one" in Tuesday debate
  • Michelle Obama: Americans "don't care about the back and forth"
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(CNN) -- The wife of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told CNN's Larry King on Wednesday that she is not offended by a much-publicized comment made toward her husband in Tuesday night's debate.

Michelle Obama talks about Williams Ayers, Hillary Clinton and her husband's campaign on Larry King Live.

Michelle Obama talks about Williams Ayers, Hillary Clinton and her husband's campaign on Larry King Live.

In the presidential matchup at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, GOP nominee John McCain criticized his Democratic rival for supporting the 2007 Bush-Cheney energy bill.

"It was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate, loaded down with goodies, billions for oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney. ... You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one," he said, gesturing toward Obama. "You know who voted against it? Me."

When asked whether McCain's reference to Obama as "that one" was offensive, Michelle Obama simply said "No," adding that the issue has nothing to do with what's affecting average Americans hurting from the economic downturn.

"I think there are two conversations that have been going on throughout this whole election. There's the conversation that's been happening with the pundits ... and then there's the conversation that's been happening on the ground," she said. Video Watch Michelle Obama talk about McCain's comment »

She said Americans "right now are scared" and "nervous about the economy."

"They don't care about the back and forth between the candidates. ... They want real answers about how we're going to fix this economy and get the health care benefits on track so, you know, this is part of politics," she added.

King asked Obama about the McCain camp bringing up her husband's ties to William Ayers. Ayers was a founding member of the Weather Underground, a 1960s radical group known for bombings of police stations, the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. Fact Check: Is Obama 'palling around with terrorists'?

Ayers is a university professor who lives on the South Side of Chicago, where Obama cut his political teeth.

Michelle Obama said her husband served on a Chicago education board with Ayers.

"I don't know anyone in Chicago who is heavily involved in education policy who doesn't know Bill Ayers," she said. "But, you know, again I go back to the point that, you know, the American people aren't asking these questions."

"You don't think it affects the campaign?" King asked.

"You know, I think that we've been in this for 20 months and people have gotten to know Barack. He's written a book, books have been written about him. He, like all of the other candidates have been thoroughly vetted. And I think people know Barack Obama. Video Watch Michelle Obama discuss William Ayers »

"They know his heart, they know his spirit, and the thing that I just encourage people is to judge Barack and judge all of these candidates based on what they do, their actions, their character, what they do in their lives rather than what somebody [else] did when they were 8."

Michelle Obama was referring to the fact that Ayers allegedly committed his most radical acts when Barack Obama was a child.

McCain's running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, has lobbed some intense attacks on Barack Obama over the Ayers issue. "Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country," Palin told a crowd of supporters this week.

King played the clip and asked Michelle Obama if that statement made her "mad."

Obama replied, "I don't watch it."

"What do you make of her running for a vice president and having many kids and being a good parent and bouncing all the balls?" King asked.

"I think she provides an excellent of example of all the different roles that women can and should play," Michelle Obama responded. "I'm a mother with kids and I've had a career and I've had to juggle. She's doing publicly what so many women are doing on their own privately. What we're fighting for is to make sure that all women have the choices that Sarah Palin and I have."

At one point, King asked her if her husband likes McCain. "Do these two candidates, as has been reported, not like each other?" King asked.

"I can only speak for Barack, and I know that Barack has the utmost respect for Sen. McCain. He said so on so many occasions," she said. "I think this has been a long, tough fight. And politics sometimes leads to things said between the candidates. But again, what we found is that people are really focused on who is going to -- who has got the vision that's going to take us to the next level?"

She said campaigning is exhausting but she likes it more than she expected.

"When I'm tired, I get more energy coming out of a rally where I get the -- get hugs and I see people on the rope lines tearing up because they never thought they'd see this moment," she said. "I see kids who are focused and engaged in a way that I've never seen before. That gives us both energy."

Obama also talked about Sen. Hillary Clinton.

"Are you happy with the way she's supporting your husband?" King asked.


"She has been phenomenal. ...She has always been just cordial and open. I've called her, I've talked to her. She's given me advice about the kids," Obama said. Video Watch Michelle Obama call Hillary Clinton 'phenomenal' »

"We've talked at length about this kind of stuff -- how you feel, how you react. She has been amazing. She is a real pro and a woman with character."

CNN political producer Ed Hornick contributed to this report.

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