First Lady Michelle Obama made a forceful case for the re-election of her husband, President Barack Obama during a half-hour chat with prominent Latinas as well as Latina Democrats during a chat streamed live this afternoon on Mamiverse.com. The First Lady urged Latina women to be actively involved in the Obama campaign, saying for Hispanic women, “it’s important to know their voice matters – we all have to be in this fight. It’s going to be a close one.”
Michelle Obama sat down in Miami with Maria Cardona, a political contributor to Mamiverse.com and a CNN analyst, as well as a Democratic strategist. Also joining the conversation was Katherine Archuleta, the top-ranking Latina in the Obama re-election campaign and its national political director. Four women who contribute to Mamiverse.com spoke to the First Lady of the issues of most importance to them.
Monica Olivera, founder of Latin Baby and MommyMaestra.com as well as NBCLatino contributor , discussed how her less-than-stellar neighborhood school prompted her to homeschool her children, and the importance of ensuring Latino families have access to preschools or resources to prepare their children for school. Renowned photographer Shirley Miranda-Rodriguez, whose son was diagnosed with autism, said many Hispanic children do not always get diagnosed early, since a lack of verbal skills is explained away by bilingualism or Spanish in the home. Cookbook author and blogger Anna Yvette Marquez-Shrapnack asked how Latinas like her could propagate some of the healthy habits and information in the Let’s Move! campaign to combat childhood obesity, which is one of Michelle Obama’s most well-known efforts. Modern Mami blogger Melanie Edwards discussed how to keep Latina girls like her daughter interested in math and science.
The First Lady talked of ways in which families can take even modest steps to improve their children’s physical and mental well-being, such as pledging to cook a homemade meal once or twice a week and sitting down to eat as a family a couple of times a week to talk and observe one’s child. Michelle Obama responded to many of the topics raised by the Latina working moms by saying her husband’s administration had worked to make these issues better. On health care, the First Lady said the Affordable Care Act had changed many families’ lives. “How many families do you know who have been relying on preventive care through an emergency room, or who were not getting well-children visits in?” she said. “This is one less thing we have to worry about as mothers,” Mrs. Obama said.
Katherine Archuleta, Obama for America’s national political director, said President Obama had a record which showed “a path of support” for Latino children, from increased funding for preschool to more emphasis on increasing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to increasing Pell grant availability for Latinos going to college.
The First Lady concluded the conversation by saying there is only one person “who will fight for all of us every single day – and who is speaking truth to power.” She also told Latinas “we have to get used to the notion that our voices matter-we are practicing using our voices to protect our families.”
Cardona told Michelle Obama focus groups of Latina women – even those who identified themselves as independents – had felt that President Obama “had their back” because of her.
Betina Cutaia Wilkinson, a Latina assistant professor of political science at Wake Forest University, says a “First Lady” would not be the reason why a Latino voter goes to the polls – especially when many voters’ main concerns are jobs and the economy, and immigration. She explains, though, that Presidents have found their wives are an important asset.
“The idea that Michelle Obama has a better sense of what Latinas are concerned about, and can whisper in the President’s ear on issues important to Hispanic women is a reason why she is important to his campaign,” says Cutaia Wilkinson.