PHOTOPHILE- Swing state: Mrs. Obama says 'it will be close'

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden make their big entrance at Newcomb Hall Plaza.

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 17 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."

Specifically, the event was a "Women for Obama" rally with Jill Biden, wife of Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden (DE), in tow. But low wages took center stage.

"The truth is if women are paid unfairly, who pays the price?" asked 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 one economic fact of her 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."

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," 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.

"Understand that Virginia is critical," Obama said. "It's what we call a swing state, and we want it swinging our way."

Approximately 3,000 students, faculty and community members turned out to see the would-be First and Second Ladies.

Fifth District congressional candidate Tom Perriello (D) warmed up the crowd before Obama's arrival.

One Obama supporter poked fun at Republican VP candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's swipe at Obama's resumé, "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."

At today's women-oriented rally, Michelle Obama said she and her husband, "won't stop working until there's equal pay for equal work."

At today's women-oriented rally, Michelle Obama said she and her husband, "won't stop working until there's equal pay for equal work."

Since the rally took place on an unseasonably warm afternoon, some students chose to watch the rally from the comforts of the air conditioned interior of Newcomb Hall.

Following her 20-minute remarks, Obama hugs a supporter.


1 comment

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