Campaign News
September 03, 2012

House Member Recalls Both Obamas From College

Lauren Fox   ·  U.S. News and World Report   ·  Link to Article

CHARLOTTE,N.C. --Alabama Democrat Rep. Terri Sewell, who was one of nine freshman Democrats elected to the House of Representatives during the Republican sweep of 2010, says a gridlocked Congress won't keep President Barack Obama from being re-elected in November.

"He's going to win," she says. "This election is a clear choice. And there is no doubt that his policies will continue to lead us forward."

And Sewell's has personal insight from watching Obama overcome obstacles.

Sewell and Obama attended Harvard Law School together.

In law school, Sewell says Obama developed a reputation as a bright and charming classmate.

"He was the smartest, and when he spoke, everyone listened," she says. "If you would have asked me who out of our class would become president. I would have said him."

Sewell admits it's surreal to see her former classmate in the White House now, but says he is still the same capable and charismatic leader she remembers.

"Our country couldn't be in better hands," she says. "He is unflappable. In the face of crisis, we couldn't ask for a better leader." [Photos: Romney Accepts Nomination]

And the president isn't the only Obama in the White House Sewell got to know well in school.

In the mid-eighties, there weren't many black students at Princeton where Sewell attended as an undergraduate so the school set up a "big sister" program. Sewell was paired with Michelle LaVaughn Robinson.

"She was a natural mentor," Sewell recalls. "Having grown up in Alabama, I thought I would be paired with someone from the South. Instead, I was paired with someone from the Southside."

Sewell recalls a valuable piece of advice Michelle Obama gave during an early meeting.

"She told me to be myself and to study hard, but study smart," Sewell says.


Sewell jokes she might be one of the only people in the country who knew the first lady and the president before they met in the summer of 1989 at Chicago's Sidley and Austin law firm where the first lady was assigned to mentor a star Harvard Law graduate named Barack Obama.

Sewell says Americans are better off than they were four years ago with the Obamas in the White House.

"Under Bush, we were hemorrhaging jobs," she says. "We have a ways to go, but it is clear we are better off."

While Republicans bash the president for bailouts and so-called Obamacare, Sewell says she's impressed with the kind of leadership Obama has shown in his four years.

"We could have done a better job explaining what was in the Affordable Care Act, but when you talk to people and you don't label it, people get really excited about what's in it. It is going to make a big difference for people," she says.

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