CHARLOTTE -- Barack Obama's best shoes were a half size too small and his prized possession was a coffee table he'd found in a Dumpster.
Mitt Romney used an ironing board for a dining room table and saw horses to hold up a make-shift desk.
These are the images Michele Obama and Ann Romney wanted to put in the minds of convention delegates in Charlotte tonight and in Tampa last week. Both were trying to invoke images of their husbands as relatable young men who lived ordinary lives even as they rose to political prominence.
Tonight the first lady said she and the president had similar upbringings in working class families.
"Like so many families, our families weren't asking for much. They didn't begrudge anyone else's success or care that others had much more than they did. In fact, they admired it," she said.
"We learned about dignity and decency," Mrs. Obama said. "We learned about honesty and integrity. ... We learned about gratitude and humility."
Moving into the White House hasn't changed that for the first family, she said.
"After so many struggles and triumphs that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are, it reveals who you are," she said.
Who her husband is, she said, is a man committed to doing what's right, ensuring access to health care, keeping education affordable and providing opportunities for people to better themselves.
"Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it ... and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we're from, or what we look like, or who we love," Mrs. Obama said. "He believes that when you've worked hard, and done well, and walked through that door of opportunity you do not slam it behind you; you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed."
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Washington Bureau Chief Tracie Mauriello: email@example.com or 703-996-9292. First Published September 5, 2012 3:15 AM