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Republicans Target Michelle Obama

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jun 12, 2008 5:04PM

2008_06_12obama.jpgAre spouses of presidential candidates fair game? It's a question that always arises, especially during this election cycle. After all, candidate spouses are important topics to potential voters. But at what point does such criticism and coverage go from legitimate to absolutely ridonkulous? Take, for instance, Fox News's coverage of Michelle Obama. Between "terrorist fist bumps" and being "Obama's baby mama," it's clear Rupert's peeps have been hitting the crazy sauce. But the Obamas could be in for more nuanced attacks on Michelle from Republicans as focus turns from the now-settled Democratic primary to the general election.

The highly visible wife of Senator Barack Obama has already taken her share of criticism revolving around a speech she made during primary season in which she said "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." Some argue that Michelle's prominence during the campaign makes her fair game. David Bossie, president of Citizens United, a conservative advocacy group, says, "She's a Harvard Law graduate. She's a very savvy, incredibly educated, capable woman. She can stand on her own, and that's why they have her out there speaking. If she was just sitting back not being involved, she wouldn't get scrutiny." How aggressive the Republican Party will actually act towards Michelle remains to be seen.

Critics have to play this carefully, said Democratic strategist Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, known in party circles for his expertise in courting the regular guy.

"A shot at Michelle could backfire every bit as easily as drive votes, especially if it is done with a race-based argument," Saunders said. "It could be they're just laying the groundwork for the ol' timey whisper campaign."

We'll see soon enough: next Wednesday, Michelle will be making another high-profile appearance as a special co-host on ABC's daytime talk show The View. Meanwhile, Fox News will release their new expose, "Malia and Sasha Obama: Budding Glitter Artists or Paste Eaters?"

Photo from Barack Obama's Flickr stream