Michelle Obama: 'Black Americans will wake up and get it'
David Edwards and Jason Rhyne
Published: Monday November 12, 2007

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Sen. Hillary Clinton's lead among African Americans voters, who consistently favor the former first lady to Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in presidential primary polling, is just a temporary phenomenon, according to Obama's wife, Michelle.

"First of all, I think that that's not going to hold," Mrs. Obama said of Clinton's current numbers in an interview with MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski. "I'm completely confident."

Acknowledging a certain reluctance in the African American community to back her husband for president, she said that support would come -- but it would take time.

"Black Americans will wake up and get it," Obama said. "But what we're dealing with in the black community is just the natural fear of possibility. When I look at my life, the stuff that we're seeing in these polls is played out my whole life: always been told by somebody that I'm not ready, you know, I can't do something, my scores weren't high enough."

Obama pointed to a specific skepticism about her husband's chances to win the presidency among blacks, who she says have been repeatedly told by society that there are limitations on what an African American can achieve.

"There's always that doubt in the back of the minds of people of color. People who've been oppressed and haven't been given real opportunities that you never really -- that you believe that somehow someone is better than you," she continued. " Deep down inside you doubt whether you can do it, because that's all you've been told is 'no, wait.' That's all you hear."

When Brzezinski related a personal anecdote about an African American flight attendant who had said Sen. Obama couldn't win "because he's black," the candidate's wife sympathized.

"That's right. That's the psychology that's going on in our heads, in our souls, and I understand it," she said. "I know where it comes from. You know, and I think that is one of the horrible legacies of racism and discrimination and oppression."

Obama's comments to Brzezinski were part of a longer MSNBC interview excerpted on the network's Morning Joe program. Following the clip, co-host Willie Geist took issue with with the remarks.

"She says black America is going to wake up. On the other hand, there is the chance that black America just likes Hillary Clinton better and they're voting for her," said Geist. "Black people aren't obligated to vote for Barack Obama."

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows Obama trailing Clinton by nine percentage points -- 46% to 37% -- among blacks.

The following video is from MSNBC's Morning Joe, broadcast on November 12, 2007.