GREENSBORO First lady Michelle Obama wowed a crowd of supporters Wednesday with the warmth and star power that shes expected to bring to opening night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
We love you! one man shouted as after she stepped up to the lectern.
Love you back! she called out.
Obama peppered her speech with personal references to illustrate broader political points, including how she and Barack Obama were so in love after they first met and, she assured the crowd, We still are. She talked about the debt they both amassed during college.
Were doing this because we believe that everyone should have a fair shot, she told an estimated 2,400 people at UNC Greensboro. And that means that all of our kids should have a good school, right?
Right! the crowd yelled back.
It means that all of our kids should be able to go to college without a mountain of debt. We believe everyone in this country should do their fair share, and that means that teachers and firefighters should not pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires. We believe that if you work hard, you shouldnt go bankrupt because you get sick
These, she concluded, are basic American values.
Obama seemed to delight in her popularity with the crowd, clapping along, smiling back as the crowd repeatedly interrupted her speech with applause and, after it was over, lingering a few minutes to touch hands that reached out to touch hers.
Once a reluctant campaigner, and stung by criticism in 2008 that she was too opinionated, Michelle Obama is now her husbands most passionate cheerleader, at ease on stage. She will help launch the DNC with a speech on opening day Sept. 4 at Time Warner Cable Arena. She has raised millions of dollars for her husbands campaign and, while in North Carolina Wednesday, attended a fundraiser in Raleigh.
At the Greensboro rally, she talked about a variety of subjects, ranging from tax breaks to health care, from womens rights to bringing American troops home from Iraq.
Barack knows the American dream because hes lived it, she said. And he believes that when youve worked hard and youve done well and youve walked through the doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks a chance to succeed as well.
She ended her speech by urging supporters to take part in a new It Takes One campaign that encourages them to do just that enlist just one more supporter, especially in North Carolina and other swing states such as Ohio, where the president campaigned Wednesday. The grassroots effort is reminiscent of Michelle Obamas role in her husbands 1995 campaign for a state senate seat in Illinois. It was his first foray into politics, and together they knocked on doors to solicit signatures to get his name on the ballot.
So if youre making phone calls, if youre knocking on doors, bring one friend that little knucklehead you know thats not doing enough, she said. Just bring them.
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx opened the rally by promising audience members that if they volunteer a certain number of hours they will be guaranteed a ticket to President Obamas acceptance speech Sept. 6 at Bank of America Stadium.
If you commit nine hours, three shifts, you will have one seat to witness history, Foxx said.
Arlayne Tate of Winston-Salem, who attended the rally with her daughter and two granddaughters, said she already has signed up to volunteer. I will get to Charlotte one way or another, Tate said. Barack Obama is such a wonderful president and Michelle Obama is such a beautiful lady.