Mitt Romney may have made a pass at Wisconsin earlier this month by selecting Paul Ryan as his vice presidential candidate, but Michelle Obama felt the love in Milwaukee today as she addressed what the President's re-election campaign identified as "grassroots supporters."
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Congresswomen Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele were in attendance in the gymnasium of Bradley Tech High School as the first lady spoke to her husband's achievements in the Oval Office.
Speaking to an overwhelmingly supportive crowd (there were shouts of "yes" and "you go, sister" to almost every comment she made), Mrs. Obama called the President "extraordinary, awesome and cute" and urged Wisconsin to blue in the November election. Wearing a form-fitting black pencil skirt and a deep purple blouse, she addressed her Milwaukee connections, mentioning the family she had in the area, and joked about how Sacha and Malia Obama are upset about having to go back to school.
Her message was clear, however. She was here to remind voters of what her husband stands for, and what she feels they stand to lose if he is unsuccessful in his re-election bid. She said that this election will be closer than the one in 2008 and that every vote counts.
Hot topics were health care reform, financial aid for higher education and the take-down of Osama bin Laden.
"The fact is over the past century so many presidents have tried and failed to meet the challenge of health care reform. But your President was determined," she said to the crowd, who responded with cheers. "Your president was driven by the stories of the people he met, stories in our lives, the grandparents who couldn't afford their medications, the families going broke because a child got sick, the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company wouldn't cover her care.
"Because of this health care reform, our parents and grandparents are paying hundreds less already for their prescription drugs. Our young people can now stay on our insurance until they're 26 years old. You don't know what that means for young people graduating, trying to get themselves together, find a job, being able to do that now knowing they got the care that they need."
She spoke about the personal struggles she and President Obama faced regarding student loans, emphasizing Obama's humble beginnings. "Let me tell you something," she said. "Your president knows what it means when a family struggles. This is not a hypothetical situation.
"Make no mistake about it: this November, we get to decide. Do we want these reforms to be repealed?" The crowd shouted "no."
The crowd was evenly mixed with older people and what appeared to be young students. The Obama campaigners appeared to be mostly in their 20s.
Mrs. Obama made no mention of the Aug. 5 shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. There appeared to be several Sikh individuals in attendance wearing bright blue shirts that read "I pledge humanity" on the front and bore what appeared to be the names of the shooting victims on the back, along with the date of the tragedy.
She also emphasized her initiative "It Takes One," urging Milwaukee voters take action at the grassroots level. "Look at this room. It takes one. It's as simple as it sounds. Every time any of you takes action to move this campaign forward, we're asking you to inspire one more person."
Colleen Jurkiewicz is a Milwaukee native with a degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she loves having a job where she learns something new about the Cream City every day. Her previous incarnations have included stints as a waitress, a barista, a writing tutor, a medical transcriptionist, a freelance journalist, and now this lovely gig at the best online magazine in Milwaukee.