Hillary Clinton is by far the most controversial first lady of our time. But among Democratic delegates in Chicago, there is nary a word of criticism. Kwame Holman reports from the Convention floor.
KWAME HOLMAN: Mrs. Clinton made an unannounced appearance at the convention last night, entering a sky box high above the floor of the United Center to the cheers and applause of the delegates below. Mention Hillary Clinton to the delegates, and the response is essentially unanimous.
PIA DAVIS, Illinois Delegate: I think she's great. I think she's dynamic. I think she's right on target, and I feel she's a great role model for women.
JEANNE MARSZALEK, Mississippi Delegate: All that she has done for children, for working women, for women that are at home--I'm a woman that is at home, and I respect her greatly.
LUCY SHARPE, Georgia Delegate: She has supported her family. She has taken a role of the responsibility in the community. She has raised and protected her child. Mrs. Clinton is the ideal American woman in my opinion.
BROWN MILLER, Mississippi Delegate: She's a great First Lady, and I don't mind saying that in my lifetime she's the smartest, brightest, greatest First Lady that's ever lived in our White House in my lifetime.
KWAME HOLMAN: And Mrs. Clinton has only enriched her standing among the delegates with a non-stop schedule in and around Chicago over the last three days: Yesterday, speaking to Democratic governors--rallying women voters at a fund-raising event--and feeling at home with members of the Arkansas delegation.
HILLARY CLINTON: But what I hope you all know individually, and I hope that you'll tell everybody at home is how much we love you and how much we count on you, and how much we miss you. So with that, have a great week. Now, don't let me hear stories about you all. (laughter)
KWAME HOLMAN: The reception Hillary Clinton is receiving here in Chicago couldn't be more embracing, but the delegates know their feelings for the First Lady aren't shared by everyone. They're well aware of her high negative ratings in public opinion polls.
GAYLE PHILLIPS, South Carolina Delegate: I can't see it myself. I like her, and she's a very smart lady, and I think sometimes people resent smart women.
BOB COBLE, South Carolina Delegate: I think any time a First Lady steps up and tries to address issues like health care and others, they're going to be criticized and you know, that's just part of a political reality of America today.
KWAME HOLMAN: But was it wrong to have her out there leading the way on the health issue, for example?
CARL GALLMAN, Illinois Delegate: Oh, I don't think it was wrong for her to lead in, lead in the charge. I think that she got out front with it. I think the party was behind it. I think it was a testing ground to see what kind of reaction the American public would have and the GOP immediately started attacking and trying to find fault with everything, so we just sort of backed away from it and once they thought it couldn't become, you know, get passage.
BYNUM GIBSON, Arkansas Delegate: She's never taken a back seat to anyone, I don't think, and willing to stand up on any issue that she felt strongly about. That was true at home, and it's true here in our nation. And I think you pay a price for that.
KWAME HOLMAN: And, of course, there are the inevitable comparisons with Elizabeth Dole.
INEZ TENEBAUM, South Carolina Delegate: Well, Hillary Clinton is really of a different generation than Elizabeth Dole. I'm of Hillary Clinton's generation, and I'm a lawyer like Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Dole. And I think Elizabeth Dole came along at a time where she learned how to fit into a man's world and fly under the radar, so to speak, whereas, Hillary Clinton has been very forthright and outspoken, and she's just been herself. She hasn't tried to mask her strongness or, you know, or tried to be called "sugar lips" or anything like that.
BEN DWORKIN, New Jersey Delegate: Elizabeth Dole hasn't been in the spotlight the way Hillary Clinton has. I mean, there has been a lot of attention focused on Hillary simply because of the active role that she took in the administration. You'd see a lot of Elizabeth--Liddy Dole's negatives go up when she--you know, I don't want to see her First Lady, but if she was, I think that's when she would have to face a lot of that scrutiny.
HILLARY CLINTON: (talking to child) And tell me about this work of yours.
KWAME HOLMAN: Today Mrs. Clinton spent part of the day at the sight of a summer youth jobs program in which young people get to work with and learn from professional artists. Jobs and education for youth are among the issues Mrs. Clinton is expected to touch on when she addresses the convention this evening. But some of the delegates we talked to already know what they want the First Lady to say.
INEZ TENEBAUM: She needs to let people know who she really is. Umm, I've seen her interviewed when, you know, the press asked her, does it hurt to be attacked like this, and she said, well, it goes with the territory. And I wish she would just say, yes, it hurts me terribly, it hurts Chelsea, it hurts the President, and it hurts us as a family, but we're strong enough to overcome it. But let her show that she really is a human, that she does, you know, hurt like the rest of us, and I think that if she shows her real self, people will love her.
DELEGATE: I think Mrs. Clinton should look the lens of the camera straight in the eye and look right into the eyes of Americans and say, I am Hillary Clinton, I am Bill's wife, I am Chelsea's mother, and I am not apologizing for speaking on issues that help American families and issues that support children in this country; I am not apologizing for being Hillary Clinton any longer.
HILLARY CLINTON: How does this sound sound to all of you?
KWAME HOLMAN: This afternoon, a few hours before her prime time appearance, Mrs. Clinton was in the convention center for a bit of a dry run.
HILLARY CLINTON: Are you having fun? Good. We have to overcome the fun deficit in this country. And I think we're making a good start on it.
KWAME HOLMAN: Delegates will have to wait to hear what else Mrs. Clinton will have to say. She's the last speaker of tonight's session.