"Sort of the up and down, that was a part of it too, sort of 'we’ll never make it,' or 'we’re not raising enough money'; well, yeah, we are, actually," she said. "Last election there were so many things I’d read in the papers and go, 'No, it's great out there.' I still feel that, but I think it’s important for us never to take anything for granted, to be hungry.”
The first lady has played a significant role in the fundraising success of Obama's campaign, raising at least $17.5 million from January to mid-September by headlining her own events. Despite a much-discussed fundraising gap between the campaigns of Obama and Mitt Romney, Obama out-raised Romney in August after falling behind for three straight months.
Michelle ObamaMichelle ObamaThe Hill's 12:30 Report Obamas dance with R2-D2, stormtroopers on Star Wars Day The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE also brushed aside talk that the president had an off day during the first presidential debate, last Wednesday.
“There’s sort of the scrum and the punditry and the analysis and then there’s the passion that we see every single day,” she said. “I don’t feel the horse race of it so we just don’t spend a lot of time talking about it. I’m so proud of him and I make sure that he knows it every single day.”
Although PBS host Jim Lehrer, who hosted last week's debate, was roundly criticized by many who suggested he lost control of the debate, Obama said the debate moderators “intimidate the hell out of you." She indicated there was zero tolerance for expressing emotion from the audience during the debate.
She compared her internal feelings while watching the debate to the very visible demonstration by the parents of gymnast Aly Raisman during the Olympics last summer.
“But you can’t make any, you can't gesture,” she said. “It’s watching your loved one perform on a tight rope … and we have two more."
There are two more presidential debates on Oct. 16 and 22 following this week's vice presidential debate on Thursday.
Obama also discussed coaching daughters Malia and Sasha on how to "exude" on camera. The Obama daughters did not attend the debate, but they were front and center during the president's speech to the Democratic National Convention last month.
“On convention night, when we were backstage, the one thing [Obama] was saying: ‘Just look like you’re listening, that’s all I want,' ” she recounted. She said she helped guide the girls with cues about when to applaud during the speech.
“They don’t know to exude and they’re not thinking about needing to exude," she continued. “So Sasha, throughout was like, ‘Is this good? Is this funny? Was that a good joke? I didn’t really get it but I’ll smile.' I'm like, that's it, that's my girl."