TODAY   |  September 04, 2012

First lady kicks off Democrats’ convention

In Charlotte, N.C., Michelle Obama is gearing up to speak at the first night of the Democratic National Convention, touting the president’s record on women’s issues amidst criticism from the Republican campaign over the state of the economy. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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>> todd, political director, white house correspondent. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah. they begin the convention with a direct appeal to the voting groups crucial to the president's re-election, women and latinos.

>> preparing for a prime time speech first lady arrived in charlotte surveying the stage where she'll address delegates and doing on the campaign trail what she's been doing for her husband, women's election issues.

>> this is a choice about women and families.

>> reporter: michelle obama will be preceded by the keynote speaker , the 37-year-old mayor of san antonio , hullian castro. as they gear up they are put on the defensive over an argument.

>> the president will say a lot of things, and he will, but he can't tell you you're better off.

>> reporter: campaigning in the shadow, paul ryan attempted to channel the ousted president in 1980 .

>> are you better off than you were four years ago?

>> reporter: over the weekend democrats at first struggled to answer that famous question.

>> can you honestly say people are better off today than they were four years ago?

>> no, but that's not the question of this election.

>> reporter: by monday morning the obama team retold.

>> are we better off today than we were four years ago when president obama was elected.

>> absolutely.

>> reporter: by the afternoon in detroit, vice president biden was even more animated.

>> you want to know whether we're better off, i got a little better off? i have a bumper sticker for you. osama bin laden is dead and gm is alive.

>> reporter: the president using team to prepare for the presidential debate. something said did earn a retort as they sparred over their economic plans getting into a battle of sports metaphors.

>> 23 million people out of work or underemployed. let me tell you, if you have a coach that's 0 and 23 million, you say it's time to get a new coach.

>> he said he's going to be the coach that leads america to a winning season, and i've got one piece of advice for you about the romney/ryan game plan , ohio. punt it away. it won't work.

>> reporter: other notable speakers an moments to look for tonight, first night of the convention, a tribute to ted kennedy , jimmy carter addresses delegates by video. both the president's sister and first lady's brother will be addressing the convention. matt.