Michelle Obama draws thousands to UVA rally
Before a crowd of 3,000 students, faculty, and community members, Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (IL), spoke outside the University of Virginia's Newcomb Hall on an unseasonably warm September afternoon imploring the assembled to get "fired up and ready to go" for her husband's White House bid.
"It's going to be a rough ride for the next several weeks, and it will be close," she said. "Every day, every single hour, every minute from now until Election Day matters."
And, as Obama pointed out, that's especially true in Virginia.
"Understand that Virginia is critical," she said. "It's what we call a swing state, and we want it swinging our way."
Specifically, the event was a "Women for Obama" rally and with Jill Biden, wife of Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden (DE), in tow, Obama made a point to make an appeal to the women who made up the majority of the crowd by speaking to the issue of women's disproportionately lower wages compared to male counterparts.
"The truth is if women are paid unfairly, who pays the price?" said Obama. "Their kids, their families pay the price, and we won't stop fighting until there's equal pay for equal work."
But, ever conscious of the fact that she was on a college campus, Obama reached out the the student base, thanking them for being part of her husband's coalition of support since the early primaries.
"You guys have been doing it all year, canvassing in the rain and snow," she said. "I don't know about UVA, do you get a little snow here? Well in Iowa we were cold!"
Obama also shared that both she and her husband shared one economic fact of life with college students.
"I know a lot of you young students don't want to hear this," she said, "but Barack and I just recently paid down our student debt several years ago, and one reason that we did is that Barack wrote two best-selling books."
For these reasons and others, Obama finished her remarks by offering instructions on how each person who had turned out that day could help the campaign coming down the home stretch.
"It's easy to get involved," she said. "We've got a ground game like nothing else here in Virginia."
And after 20 minutes on the stump, she left with the rallying cry, "Let's go change the world!"
If the makeup of the crowd was any indicator, Obama's appeal cuts across demographical lines. Riko Smalls, a first-year student at UVA from Plano, Texas, says he had just heard of the rally that day and that he was so inspired that he registered to vote on the spot.
"It was amazing. Everything she said was on point," said Smalls. "This will be my first presidential election, and I can't wait to vote for Barack Obama."
Martha McIntire, a grandmother of two from Louisa, was equally moved.
"I'm worried about the future my grandchildren will grow up in," she said, "but I'm delighted I have the chance to vote for Barack Obama. I had a chance to vote for Geraldine Ferraro and Walter Mondale in 1984, and I'm glad I've lived to see this day as well."
The event was not the first time an Obama has made a splash in Charlottesville. Back on October 30, 2007, Sen. Obama set an attendance record by attracting 5,000 to the Charlottesville Pavilion, and raising $250,000 for his campaign in the process.