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Michelle Obama: Campaign jabs don't anger Barack

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  • Michelle Obama on husband's take on McCain: He has the utmost respect for him
  • Things like health-care crisis, not campaign jabs, get Barack angry, Michelle says
  • Hillary Clinton "has been phenomenal" with support of Barack, Michelle says
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(CNN) -- Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, sat down for an interview with CNN's Larry King on Wednesday, the day after her husband's second presidential debate with Sen. John McCain.

Michelle Obama talks about the presidential race, her husband's demeanor and race on "Larry King Live."

Michelle Obama rejected the reported assertion by McCain's wife, Cindy McCain, that Barack Obama was running the dirtiest campaign in American history. She said that although campaigns "sometimes [lead] to things said between the candidates," the Obamas respect the McCains and believe they and other Republicans will be needed to help address the country's problems.

Michelle Obama also addressed whether she feared an anti-black vote. A selection from the interview is below.

Larry King: Do these two candidates, as has been reported, not like each other?

Michelle Obama: 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. You know, 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 ... has got the vision that's going to take us to the next level.

King: Your husband appears so cool, though. Doesn't he get angry?

Obama: Yes. He gets angry. But he doesn't get angry about this stuff. I mean ... what you heard in that debate, when you saw his passion, it was when he was talking about the health care crisis, and he talked about his mother dying of ovarian cancer, and how angry it made him to see her worrying about the insurance company and the payments rather than worrying about getting well. And that's what we're seeing. That's the kind of stuff that makes Barack angry. It's not the back and forth.

King: The "Tennessean" is quoting Cindy McCain as saying that your husband is -- get this -- is running the dirtiest campaign in American history. Now tell me you have no reaction to that?

Obama: Well, it's just not true. It's a simple reaction. It's not true, and when something is not true, you don't take it to heart. You just keep rolling along. I think -- I've been so proud of the way that Barack has conducted himself in this campaign. I think he's one of the smartest men that I know, and he's able -- what we saw in that debate, one of his many gifts, is to be able to take really complex issues and make them real for people and explain them in a way that doesn't seem condescending or disrespectful. I don't think Barack has that kind of bone in his body.

King: So, the next time let's say you run into her, you wouldn't say anything?

Obama: I saw her last night. I don't know when she said this, but, you know, I shook her hand. We shake hands. She, you know, addresses me politely. We, you know, have a very respectful relationship. ... You know, we're going to need John McCain, we're going to need Cindy McCain, we're going to need independents and Republicans working hard to fix this crisis.

King: You obviously realize the historic nature of this. We are either going to have a female vice president or a black president.

Obama: Absolutely. Absolutely.

King: The world ain't going to be the same.

Obama: Right. You know, what a wonderful year this has been. You know, this has been an amazing year throughout. And I think my 10-year-old daughter summed it up best. The night that Barack clinched the nomination and I came home, woke up in the morning and sort of explained that Dad, you know, actually won the nomination. ... I said, 'This is this first time an African-American will have been a nominee.' And Malia said, 'Well, yes.' You know, 'I realize what a big deal it is,' she said. 'But, it would have been a big deal if Hillary Clinton had won, too.' She said it without blinking an eye. She said, 'Because women didn't have the right to vote and there was inequality there.' It was a matter-of-fact. It's like, that's where we've come: where our 10-year-olds and 7-year-olds understand that this is big.

King: Speaking of Hillary, are you happy with the way she's supporting your husband?

Obama: She has been phenomenal. From the minute after this was done, 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. 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.

King: And will she campaign and go all the way?

Obama: She's been campaigning. She's on the road. I don't know her schedule completely, but she's been raising money for the campaign, she's been working on her donors, she's been in swing states. She and Bill Clinton have been working hard to make sure that Barack is the next president of the United States.

King: How do you react when people talk about the Tom Bradley effect? Tom Bradley was mayor of Los Angeles [and was black]. He ran for governor of California. The polls had him 65 percent. I think he was practicing his acceptance speech and he lost. And the Bradley factors become people who were afraid to say [in polls], 'I'm against a black.' Do you fear that here? An anti-black vote?

Obama: People talk about it all the time. But, it's theoretical in the case of this election. Because --

King: But you have a past case to look at.

Obama: But also, look where are, Larry. Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee. If there was going to be a Bradley effect, if it was going to be in play, Barack wouldn't be the nominee. We have to focus on the country as it is. That was several decades ago. And I think that there's been growth and movement. Now, there will be people who will never vote for Barack Obama. But, there will be people who will never vote for John McCain, either. I think right now, people are so focused on what is the fate of our country, not just here domestically, but internationally. And I just believe that the issues are going to weigh in people's hearts more so as they go into the voting booths this time around, than anything else.

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