Michelle Obama swings through our swing state

Urges Coloradans to reelect her husband
The Colorado Statesman

CASTLE ROCK — First Lady Michelle Obama urged Colorado voters to send her husband, Barack Obama, back to the White House for another term during a two-day, three-city campaign swing through the state last week. Saying that the presidential race in this battleground state will be much closer than it was last time — when Obama won by 73 votes per precinct — she urged supporters to double down on their efforts chasing every ballot.

“There are going to be plenty of ups and downs over the next 26 days, count on that,” she told a crowd estimated at 3,100 inside a hall at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock last Thursday. “But when you start to get tired — and you will — when you start to think about taking a day off — and you will — I just want you to remember that what we do over the next 26 days will absolutely make the difference between waking up the day after Election Day and wondering, could I have done more, or feeling the promise of four more years.”
Obama — one of the most popular public figures in the country, far outpacing her husband or his Republican opponent in favorability — got personal with the crowd, outlining the competing visions of the two candidates in part by describing her husband’s character.

“We believe that the truth matters. You don’t take short cuts, you don’t game the system, you don’t play by your own set of rules,” first lady Michelle Obama tells a crowd of 3,100 on Oct. 11 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“You make sure that people understand that Barack Obama knows the American Dream, because he’s lived it,” she told the rowdy crowd, which passed the hours before the first lady’s remarks dancing to the funky sounds of Maestro Groove, a local band.

One of her favorite things on the campaign trail, she said, “is that I get to talk about the man I’ve loved and admired since the first day I met him 24 years ago,” adding, “what truly made me fall in love with Barack Obama was his heart.”

First lady Michelle Obama hugs a supporter as she takes the stage on Oct. 11 at a rally in Castle Rock.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Recalling the long hours worked by the first family’s parents, she said that the values of hard work with an eye toward boosting the next generation underlie her husband’s approach to politics.

“Our families just weren’t asking for much — they didn’t want much. They didn’t begrudge anyone else’s success, never. They didn’t mind if others had much more than they did — in fact, they admired that, and that’s why they pushed us to be the best that we could be,” Obama said, drawing near continuous cheering and applause from the crowd.

Susan Daggett fires up the crowd at a Michelle Obama rally on Oct. 11 in Castle Rock.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“They simply believed in that fundamental American promise, that even if you don’t start out with much, if you work hard, if you do what you’re supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids. They also believed that when you’ve worked hard, and you’ve done well, and finally walked through that doorway, you don’t slam it shut behind you.”

Without naming Republican nominee Mitt Romney — she just mentioned Big Bird, the recent symbol of public broadcasting funding on the GOP’s chopping block, in her Castle Rock speech — Obama drew a sharp contrast between the values she argued are at stake in the election.

“More than anything else, we have to understand that that’s what this election is about — it’s a choice about our values, hopes and aspirations. It’s a choice about the America that we want to leave behind for our kids and our grandkids,” she said.

“We believe in an America where every child should have a good school that pushes them,” she said. “We believe in an America where no one goes broke because they get sick. We believe in an America where we all understand that none of us — none of us — get where we are on our own. And in this America, when one of us stumbles, when one of us falls on hard times, we don’t tell them ‘tough luck, you’re on your own.’ No, in our America, we extend a helping hand while they get back on their feet.”

Those beliefs matter, she said, after watching the president up close for nearly four years.

“When it comes time to make those tough calls, and everyone is urging you to do what’s easy, what polls best, what gets good headlines — as president, you have to be driven by the struggles, hopes and dreams of all of the people that you serve. You need to be committed to lifting up every single American. That’s how you make the right decisions for this country, that’s what it takes to be a leader.”

Obama spoke at Fountain Middle School in Fountain, south of Colorado Springs, and at Fort Lewis College in Durango on Wednesday. It was her third public visit to Colorado this year, following a rally at Arapahoe High School in June and an appearance at an August fundraiser in Denver. She and her two daughters spent President’s Day weekend skiing in Aspen in February. Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, spoke at a rally in Littleton a week earlier and has attended closed fundraisers in the state.

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com