First Read is an analysis of the day's political news, from the NBC News political unit. First Read is updated throughout the day, so check back often.

Chuck Todd, NBC Political Director

Mark Murray, NBC Deputy Political Director

Domenico Montanaro, NBC Political Researcher

M. Obama talks fatherhood, women's issues

Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2008 3:46 PM by Domenico Montanaro
Filed Under: ,

From NBC/NJ’s Carrie Dann
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A day after the revelation of Jesse Jackson’s crude criticism of Barack Obama’s speeches on fatherhood and faith-based initiatives, this morning Michelle Obama was talking about fatherhood, responsibility and accountability.

"There's government responsibility and accountability, and then there's individual responsibility and accountability," she said in response to a young woman's reference to the Democratic nominee's emphasis on fatherhood. "One never cancels out the other."

Her remarks came in response to a question from 25-year-old audience member Ibbaanika Bond, whose boyfriend has been trying to regain custody of their child after she, an unwed mother, gave up her son Noah for adoption, an action she now says she regrets. 

Craig Lentz, the son's biological father, took the case against Noah's adoptive parents to the Missouri Supreme Court on the grounds that he never agreed to the adoption. (NBC's Kansas City affiliate did a story on the case.)

Referencing Obama's efforts to put fathers' responsibility into the spotlight, Bond insisted, "There is a system in this country that, even in court, they're keeping people from doing that. People want to take care of their children."

After listening to the young mother's passionate appeal for legal justice, Obama agreed that the family court system is flawed, but added that her husband's directive to parents is aimed at those who fail to take an active role in children's lives despite available resources.

"I want to make sure that people, that people understand that as Barack talks about his personal experiences growing up without a father, that in no way doesn't recognize that there are serious problems in the system," she said. "As we are talking about that fight, we also have to recognize that there are some people who do have complete ability and access to do what they need to do."

The Kansas City roundtable, held at the city's University of Missouri campus, was the aspiring First Lady's second in as many days. Yesterday, she held a similar event in Pontiac, Michigan, before a crowded auditorium of mostly black women where they discussed soaring health care costs and unemployment.

Today's audience was also made up of almost all women, but the crowd in the more affluent university area was more mixed. Participants mentioned college-loan payments and day-care fees as monthly costs that drive them to scrimp and cut corners.

Obama used the roundtable audience, as she did yesterday, to describe her husband's understanding of women's issues through the prism of the strong -- but sometimes struggling -- women in his life.

His own mother, she said at the beginning of her remarks, was "very young and very single when she had him." And, Obama added, he has observed his wife's attempts to reconcile motherhood with her career aspirations.

"He sees me, his wife, who struggles every day with that guilt that we all hold deep in our hearts as women," she said. "That guilt that you don't have the choice to stay home, and even if you do, you feel guilty."

"He has seen me struggle with this my entire life," she added. "Trust me, Barack understands the struggles of women."


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Obama won't have much to say about fatherhood once Jesse gets done with him.
i guess we can expect jesse jackson to go after her too.  

See video of mccain being asked  about viagra
Next time someone wants to call the Obsama's elitists, they should read this article.

A description of the struggles she and Barack have faced just getting where they are.  The choices they have had to make in their lives.

Real people understanding the problems of other average Americans with an emphasis on responsibility and accountability.

Good stuff.  

Barack understands the struggles of women, and McCain is what women struggle againgst. Abuse, and oppresion.
Maybe Barack can go talk to his former constituents in the Chicago hood about his plans for fathers  responsibilities. Seems there is a 85% default rate for fathers taking care of their kids in Obama's own backyard. Now Obama wants to do for the country what he did for his own community.
I'm so upset Jesse has the nerve to say those things and how completely stupid he is. No doubt the reason he never made his presidential bid is because he can't hold his tongue. Black folks always have internal issues of supporting each other at ALL times which is the main reason they fail as a community. Shame on you Jesse.
Jackson needs to get over himself. There is an increasing problem with single mothers and absent fathers in our entire country, not just the AA community. P.S. Does anyone really think Mrs. Mac ever had these problems or challenges?
Michelle is a smart lady.  She listens well. Her lawyer training serves her well.  She is definitely an asset and will be a first lady that America will be proud of.  
Just wondering.  How would Cindy do answering the same question? Would she understand the question? What kind of answer would she give?  Does her millions preclude giving an answer that speaks to this woman's issue. Just wondering.
{ Today's audience was also made up of almost all women }

Women, this why you don't make as much as men. Too much time taken off from work to listen to boulder heads like the Obama's.
Fatherhood is a role that tells it all. Individual responsibility and accountability. Fatherhood isn't for every male but when fathers obstruct the system , then they should be spotlighted.

Jackson has a child other than with his wife.
Obama won't have much to say about fatherhood once Jesse gets done with him.
Lois Weekly, KC MO (Sent Thursday, July 10, 2008 3:54 PM)

I'm not sure what your post means but if you believe that a man, of any color, that fathers a child should not be accountable or responsible the upbringing of that child then you are simply void of any self-respect.  It is people like you who are causing the disintegration of the family in America.  
John Edwards was right. There are two Americas. White America figured out what Obama was talking about decades ago. Why is Black America still struggling with the obvious?
Correction....an absolute unintended mistake.

Please replace "Obsama's" with Obama's.

With apologies to the Obama family.
Now to the statement made by Rev Jackson, I find it odd that a man of God would speak like that. But when you consider that this man has a illegitament child out there and he was hit by Obama's statement.You could see why he felt that way . I was not offended by Obama's statement but then again I am a proud father with my children in hand.
Brian M De. (Sent Thursday, July 10, 2008 10:13 AM)

Exactly Brian. Very insightful.

I pondered the same dynamic. Jackson was convicted by Obama's admonition.

You sound like a good father. You should be proud. Kudos for your post.
The Obama's think every institution of the United States is flawed. But, for some reason, the Obamas  want to take us closer to the old Soviet style system of government. There's a few tens of millions of buried souls that would tell you about the faults of that particular system.
Has anyone notices MSNBC has been equating Gramm's comments and Jesse Jackson's comments all day long, as if Jackson is an advisor who screwed up as well- like "Ooh, see, both candidates are having to clean up for their surrogates' messes". Be careful, MSNBC, your bias is showing.
One of the reasons I Like Barack Obama, is that I think his wife Michelle would make a very active, and historically impacting First Lady.
Hey man, john mcshame is into womens issues too...in fact he has had affairs with them...dumped a crippled one...married a rich and pretty one...
Donna that was well put.
The portion of this that struck me was the seperation of governmental and individual responsibilty.
People sometimes seem to forget their individual responsibilities and wait around for the government to take charge.
I am sure other politicians may have pointed this out, but it the first time I can recollect one doing so and hats off for having done so.
Don't hear black people crying that Obama is racist.  Wonder why, he is half white ya know!!!
obama is NOT an expert on anything - he is NOT qualified to lead our country.  He is an Arrogant, Radical FRAUD and will never be elected.
This Dem will not vote for him - and MILLIONS feel the same way.  Guess McCain is a good 2nd Choice - at least we can trust him.
Was michelle speaking Spanish and wearing those $600 earrings she mentioned purchasing with the tax stimulus?
Way to go Kelly; I used to be from WI.
MCcain has no respect for women; all he does is use them and throw them away when they're no longer useful to him!!!
Michelle is a good wife and mother who throws her full support behind her husband even though she knows what she'll be giving up in order for her husband to see his dream of a better America come true. Michelle continues to reach out to Americans even though she knows she is not seen favorably by everyone. That's brave and that's a woman who has an abiding love for her Country. I admire her courage, Michelle will make a very good First Lady.


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