Michelle Obama strolls through the campaign headquarters on the eleventh floor of a nondescript downtown Chicago high-rise like a queen. Long-limbed and striking, she is not dressed like a candidate’s wife. No jewel-toned knits or demure knee-length skirts. It’s hot outside, so her shoulders are bare. Campaign workers fall silent as she glides by, more awed than intimidated.

Michelle Obama, wife of Illinois Senator Barack Obama, does not act like a candidate’s wife, either. When standing on stage by her husband’s side, there is none of that dutiful head nodding. Her gaze is fixed on him but there is not an ounce of subservience in it. Still it is clear that when they are together he is the person commanding the stage.

But as her husband continues to turn heads in his bid to become the nation’s first African-American president, Michelle Obama just might be the campaign’s secret weapon.

Michelle on women trying to do it all:
“I cannot be involved in a presidential campaign, hold down a full-time senior-level position, get my kids to camp, and exercise and eat right. I know I can’t do it all.”

On first hearing about her future husband from co-workers:
I thought, This is probably just a Black man who can talk straight. That’s why they’re excited about him.”

On considering her husband’s run for President:
I took myself down every dark road you could go on, just to prepare myself before we jumped out there.”

On her husband:
The authenticity you see is real, and that’s why I fell in love with him.”
 For more insight into Michelle, her husband and their bid for the White House, read the entire article in our September issue with Jill Scott on the cover.

Gwen Ifill is the managing editor of Washington Week and senior correspondent for The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer.