Twelve hours after setting an exceedingly high bar for convention speeches, first lady Michelle Obama was fired up and ready to do it all over again when she addressed the Democratic National Convention’s African-American delegates and attendees Wednesday morning.
“I’m a little sleepy,” she joked. “But I am so thrilled to be here with all of you today.”
Obama’s remarks, in contrast to Tuesday’s passionate and emotional one, were starkly political. The first lady cautioned that much more is at stake this year than ensuring good schools, health reform “so families don’t go broke when someone gets sick,” tax cuts for working families and preventing predatory lending practices.
Taking aim at the interest groups and super PACs that critics say have had an outsize role in the 2012 election cycle, she asked her audience to consider what kind of political landscape they want to wake up to on Nov. 7.
“We need to step back and ask ourselves, do we want to give a few individuals a far bigger say in our democracy than anyone else? Do we want our elections to be about who buys the most ads on TV?” she said. “Do we want our kids and grandkids to walk away from this election feeling like ordinary, hardworking voices can no longer be heard in this country? Or are we going to show our kids that here in America, we all have an equal voice in the voting booth?”
The answers, she added, lie in their willingness to “work like you’ve never worked before” to help the president win his re-election bid. Acknowledging how key battleground victories will be to the race, she urged those who don’t live in a battleground state to “get to one” or make calls from home.
“If you can afford it, write a check, and if you haven’t maxed out, max out,” Obama said. “But most importantly, make sure that every single person that you know is within the sound of your voice, your touch, your breath, and make sure you get to them.”
Before hearing the first lady speak, Sylka Millner, 27, who works as an account executive for CBS in Charlotte, said she hadn’t planned to get involved with the campaign, but her perspective has now changed.
“I’m ready to go out and just start a conversation with people I don’t know, and I feel like I have to do as much as I can,” Millner said.
After watching last week’s Republican National Convention, Ashley Payne, a third-year law student at Emory University, felt discouraged by the negativity she heard, but it also made her want to join the Democrats in Charlotte. Watching the first lady’s speech on television on Tuesday left her with hope that she, too, will one day be able to pay off her student loan debt and grab hold of her share of the American Dream. Hearing Mrs. Obama speak in person on Wednesday inspired and energized her.
“She’s amazing!” the 24-year-old gushed. “And as a student, it really pushes and energizes you, and that’s what you need. You don’t want to be apathetic, but it’s so hard when watching the negative things said on TV. Then you’re in the room with her, and all that energy and great personality, and you’re like, alright, let’s get up. Let’s do this thing.”
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(Photo: AP Photo/Gerry Broome)