WASHINGTON — What gets under Barack Obama's skin? Criticism of his wife, Michelle Obama.
In an interview with Glamour magazine, Obama said attacks on his wife are "infuriating." The likely Democratic presidential nominee blamed the conservative press for going after his wife as if she were the candidate.
"If they have a difference with me on policy, they should debate me. Not her," Obama told the magazine.
Michelle Obama has been highly active in her husband's campaign, appearing with him at events and by herself at other times in an effort to help tout his candidacy. She promotes his policy agenda at fundraisers and gives interviews to reporters in support of his views.
An Associated Press-Yahoo poll suggests Michelle Obama has higher favorable ratings than Cindy McCain, wife of presumptive Republican nominee John McCain. However, Michelle Obama's unfavorable ratings are also higher.
Michelle Obama came under fire in February when she said she was proud of her country for the first time in her adult life. She later clarified her remark, saying she has always been proud of her country and was particularly proud to see so many people involved in the political process.
As Michelle Obama appeared Thursday in Seattle with Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, the state Republican Party began airing a video that questioned Michelle Obama's patriotism. It was similar to one run by the Tennessee GOP, showing a clip of her February comments.
Obama's campaign denounced the ad for its "shameful attacks on the wife of a candidate." The state Republican Party countered that it was fair play because Michelle Obama is a surrogate who came to campaign with one of her husband's supporters.
In the magazine interview, Obama said the attacks are ironic because his wife is "the most quintessentially American woman I know."
Michelle Obama, 44, has worked as a lawyer and hospital executive. The couple have two daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.
The Internet has been a double-edged sword for Obama's campaign. While it's allowed the campaign to organize supporters and raise millions of dollars, Obama said it's also provided a vehicle for rumors and myths to spread quickly.
"It's very hard to catch up," he said.
Glamour's editor-in-chief also interviewed McCain. Full interviews with both candidates were scheduled to appear in the magazine's October issue.
Associated Press writer Rachel La Corte in Seattle contributed to this report.