Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle, is under fire for leaving the impression that she hasn’t been proud of her country until now, when Democrats are beginning to rally around her husband’s campaign.
Speaking in Milwaukee, Wis., on Monday, she said, “People in this country are ready for change and hungry for a different kind of politics and … for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”
Greeted with rousing applause after making the comment in Milwaukee, Obama delivered an amended version of the speech later that day in Madison, Wis.
“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country … not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change,” she said. “I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment.”
Obama was born in 1964, meaning her adult life began in 1982. Critics quickly seized on the newfound national pride.
“I am proud of my country,” John McCain’s wife, Cindy, said at a campaign stop in Brookfield, Wis., Tuesday. “I don’t know if you heard those words earlier … but I am very proud of my country.”
During a follow up press conference, the Arizona senator was asked if they were responding to Michelle Obama and he deferred to his wife.
McCain responded: “I just wanted to make the statement that I have and always will be proud of my country.”
Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the candidate’s wife wasn’t trying to knock her country, only underscore the meaning behind her husband’s campaign.
“The point is that of course Michelle is proud of her country, which is why she and Barack talk constantly about how their story wouldn’t be possible in any other nation on Earth,” she said. “What she meant is that she’s really proud at this moment because for the first time in a long time, thousands of Americans who’ve never participated in politics before are coming out in record numbers to build a grassroots movement for change.”
But conservative outlets aren’t so ready to let her off the hook.
“Can it really be there has not been a moment during that time when she felt proud of her country?” reads an article in Commentary magazine. “Forget matters like the victory in the Cold War; how about only things that have made liberals proud — all the accomplishments of inclusion? How about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991? Or Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s elevation to the Supreme Court?”
The article then says Michelle Obama’s comments suggest “the pseudo-messianic nature of the Obama candidacy is very much a part of the way the Obamas themselves are feeling.”
Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol said the comment “was sort of revealing.”
“She was an adult when we won the Cold War without firing a shot. She was an adult for the last 25 years of economic progress, social progress,” he told FOX News. “I think the Democrats have to be careful … they’re running against the status quo … You have to be careful not to let that slide into a kind of indictment of America. Because I don’t think the American people think on the whole that the last 25 years of American history is a narrative of despair and nothing to be proud of.”
Democratic strategist Bob Beckel said Obama “shouldn’t have said it the way she said it” but she gets the benefit of his doubt. He added that she most likely was just referring to the grassroots movement that’s swelled to support her husband, but she needs to be more careful.
“The Obama’s have to recognize they are now front-runners, and everything they say, it’s now open hunting season for people,” he said.
FOX News’ Mosheh Oinounou and Bonney Kapp contributed to this report.