(The Root) — When first lady Michelle Obama takes the podium in the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., tonight, among her challenges will be to reassure voters, particularly those who voted for President Obama in 2008, that the leader who sometimes seems to be a little too inside his own head or willing to compromise with his opponents is still connected to the concerns that matter to the American people. Will she go with Ann Romney's approach, countering a detached, corporate reputation with homey details like the pasta and tuna fish dishes the Romneys ate as newlyweds?
"I think my job tonight is going to be to remind people about who my husband is, because even though he's a very likable president, he's been the president, and he's had a very serious role. There are few times when he can really let his hair down, and sometimes it's important for people to remember who this man is in terms of his values, his conviction and his character," said the first lady in a conference call this afternoon with reporters.
"Four years ago millions of people across this country came together and elected the leader they knew would stand up for them in office, and I want people to know that Barack is still that leader. He is still driven by the core values and principles that made him want to do this incredibly tough job in the first place."
During her speech tonight, expect Mrs. Obama to also remind listeners of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and that the first bill her husband signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on equal pay lawsuits — issues she sees as important to women voters, with whom the president leads in polls over Romney. But such issues don't only matter to women, she insisted. "Women's success in this economy is the key to families' success in this economy," Mrs. Obama said.
Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.