Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm tells the Democratic National Convention how President Barack Obama helped save the auto industry. (Stan Honda/Getty Images)
(DETROIT FREE PRESS) - It was the speech heard round the world, or at least around YouTube.
And former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who delivered the arm-waving, fist-pumping, eye-winking, decibel-breaking speech at the Democratic National Convention, could barely hear her own words.
"Usually at these conventions, the delegates just keep talking and schmoozing during the speeches, but then they started to react," Granholm said in an interview with the Free Press on Wednesday. "I didn't go out there with the intention of getting as worked up as I did."
But about three minutes into a six-minute speech, when she delivered the line, "In Romney's world, the cars get the elevators and the workers get the shaft," the crowd leaped to its feet, started hollering and didn't stop.
When she started ticking off the auto jobs saved in a half dozen or so states, the noise level -- from Granholm and the crowd -- erupted.
"The crowd was just getting so enthusiastic that I couldn't even hear myself," she said, acknowledging her louder and louder delivery. "It was a very fun and joyous experience to have the crowd so excited."
While the delegates on the floor cheered wildly, viewers back home scratched their heads. This didn't seem like the well-spoken but certainly more reserved woman who was Michigan's attorney general for four years and governor for eight.
"If you combine the energy of all of her years in Michigan, it doesn't come close to what she showed in that speech," said Lansing pollster Bernie Porn. "Between the winks, the wild arm gestures, I had to figure out if I was watching a speech or a Zumba class."
The speech became an instant sensation on Twitter and YouTube, with more than 500,000 people watching various replays. Tens of thousands more watched the inevitable mash-ups of her speech mixed with the scream that brought down Democrat Howard Dean's presidential ambitions in 2004.
"It was like she was possessed," said Lansing political consultant Tom Shields. "It was a speech made for a convention atmosphere. I'm not sure if it was made for prime-time TV."
People watching the speech wondered on Twitter whether she was dangerously over-caffeinated -- even drunk.
"No, I didn't have any Red Bull and no, I wasn't drinking," Granholm said. "And yes, I was high on democracy."
She also was a bit nervous about a speech that campaign officials cut from six pages to four to account for time constraints. Granholm knows she has plenty of detractors in the political arena.
"I was there to rally the base, and the people who didn't like it aren't going to be receptive to the message anyway," she said.
Her time on the campaign trail will be limited by commitments to her current gigs -- "The War Room," a liberal-leaning talk show on Current TV that is scheduled to run at least through the election, and teaching at the University of California, Berkeley. When Barack Obama was elected president, Granholm was mentioned as a potential candidate for several cabinet positions and for the U.S. Supreme Court. This year, her path is less certain.
"I'm sort of doing the campaigning every night in my little way on Current TV. In my own way, I want to make a difference," she said. "I have no idea what's going to happen in the future."
Detroit Free Press