The War Over Michelle Obama

She sings in a different key on the campaign trail, which has made her a powerful surrogate--and a prime target

Callie Shell / Aurora for TIME

Michelle Obama is her husband's "rock," "the love of my life"—and the center of a conservative storm.

Through the primaries, Michelle Obama was such an effective proxy for her husband that Obama aides nicknamed her "the Closer" because she'd get more commitment cards signed at her rallies than the candidate did at his. At 44, she is vivid, engaging, part therapist, part professor, part girlfriend who comes over for coffee and tells you hard truths about the stupid mistakes you're making.

But in recent weeks, Michelle has also become a favorite target of conservatives, who attack her with an exuberance that suggests there are no taboos anymore. The latest strike came from the Tennessee Republican Party, which posted...

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