Sarah Palin has not locked in the mommy vote. At Monday morning's rally for Michelle Obama, women parked strollers just outside the ropes containing the crowd, while others wandered around with babies in slings. A couple of women sported "Tee Ball Mamas for Obama" t-shirts.
Tee ball mamas beat hockey mothers any day of the week.
About 1,800 people men and women - assembled at G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Park near Camp Randall to see Barack Obama's wife. But only women were selected to sit on the risers behind her, in part because the Obama campaign was kicking off "Women's Week of Action."
None of the speakers gave details about what, exactly, a "Women's Week of Action" entailed. Something about women talking to women, and apparently hosting a bunch of house parties.
The usual cadre of local politicians lined up to speak: U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. But it was a young UW-Madison student female, of course - who got to introduce Michelle Obama.
The morning started out mostly foggy, but as if the Obama campaign had choreographed the weather, shafts of sunlight broke through and fell across Obama as she took the stage.
She looked stylish and confident, but her speech fell flat. The crowd which had earlier cheered wildly for the guy testing the microphone applauded in all the right places. But it was clear that, today at least, Michelle lacked the inspiring oratory of her husband. Maybe it was because she was delivering her stock speech, a variation of the one she gave to the Democratic National Convention last month.
She spoke about how her father never complained about his multiple sclerosis: "He just woke up a little earlier, worked a little harder."
She mentioned growing up on the south side of Chicago. She talked about how her husband chose to work in the community, instead of taking a job at a corporate law firm. She said her two daughters are the first things she thinks of in the morning, and the last thing she thinks of at night.
Good stuff, but you've heard it all before. With Obama, only one or two points ahead of John McCain in Wisconsin, it might be time to ratchet up the excitement. Or at least change the rhetoric.
Michelle did have one nice moment, when she appeared to break from her script. As she was imploring the crowd to encourage others to vote, someone yelled out, "How do we bridge the racial divide?"
A genuine question for the nation's first black presidential nominee and his wife, and one that got a genuine answer. "What we need to do is focus people on the issues," replied Michelle, before adding, "You can bridge the divide better than anything I could say."
When someone in the crowd denied it, Michelle insisted, "Yes! People listen to their friends and their neighbors. We're here because you've been so successful."
Carousel Andrea Bayrd, a Dane County supervisor and interim head of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, was one of 25 people invited to a private meeting with Michelle Obama before the speech. Bayrd, a Hillary Clinton supporter, was impressed.
"She talked to everyone, and not just for a second," she says, adding that Michelle asked what she could do to help Bayrd further women's reproductive rights. "She was asking me a question. I don't find that common among politicians at all."
Kelda Helen Roys got a high-five from Michelle when she explained that she'd recently won a six-way primary for the Wisconsin Assembly. "You can just tell there's a lot going on in there," says Roys, tapping a finger to her head. "She's very bright."