President Obama speaks during a campaign rally at Norfolk State University… (Mark Wilson / Getty Images )
NORFOLK, Va. — President Obama will watch the first lady’s prime-time speech Tuesday night with his daughters at the White House — and says he’ll try not to get choked up.
“I am going to try not to let them see their daddy cry,” Obama told a crowded outdoor rally in Norfolk, Va. “Because when Michelle starts talking, I start getting all misty.”
Michelle Obama will highlight the opening night of the three-day Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Aides have said the first lady, who the president called “the star of the Obama family,” would offer personal insight into his values and character.
Obama spoke at Norfolk State University, a historically black university in Virginia’s eastern Tidewater region. The largely rural coastal area has become a heated battleground in the fight for the state’s 13 electoral votes.
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Obama won Virginia in 2008 — the first Democratic presidential candidate to do since 1964 — by a healthy 7 percentage points. His campaign registered and turned out huge numbers of new voters, particularly in African American communities.
Many of those voters did not cast ballots in the 2010 midterm elections, however, and Virginia took a turn to the right. The president needs them back in the voting booths to win the state in November.
Rich Republican donors are “counting on you, maybe not to vote for Romney, but they’re counting on you to feel discouraged,” Obama said. “They figure that if you don’t vote, big oil will write our energy future, insurance companies will write our healthcare plans and politicians will dictate what a woman can or can’t do when it comes to her own health. They’re counting on you just to accept their version of things."
Obama has been trying to light a fire under his political base in his four-day “Road to Charlotte” campaign swing. The stop in Norfolk, his last on the tour, was his fourth rally in a week on a college campus. On Monday, he packed a high school gym in an African American neighborhood of Toledo, Ohio, for a Labor Day rally that pounded a pro-union message.
In Norfolk, Obama was greeted by an overwhelmingly African American crowd. Many waited out in the scorching sun for hours before he arrived and showed no sign of flagging dedication.
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Latreece Arthur, a 47-year-old administrative assistant, came despite doctor’s orders, leaning against a barricade to stand up. Mahala Butler, 84, was carried out of the crowd with heat exhaustion just minutes before Obama took the stage. But she rose to her feet, leaning against a pole in a media tent, to cheer the president.
A Romney campaign spokesperson, Amanda Henneberg, slammed Obama in an email to reporters.
“Whether it’s the president’s devastating defense cuts, opposition to bipartisan proposals for offshore drilling in the commonwealth, his war on coal, or job-destroying policies, President Obama has found himself on the wrong side of the issues Virginians care about the most,” she said.
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