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First Lady Michelle Obama gets rock star reception at DNC

September 05, 2012|By Robin Abcarian

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The lady, if there was any doubt, is a rock star.

“Little sleepy, but I am so thrilled to be here with you today,” said Michelle Obama, looking not the least bit sleepy as she stepped onstage to address the African American caucus Wednesday morning, about 12 hours after she brought down the house on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention. “Love you! Love you so much!”

The love was returned at high volume – in whoops, claps, hollers and cowbells.

Reprising the personal themes of her widely praised convention speech, she also expressed gratitude to the wildly enthusiastic crowd and urged each delegate to write checks, register voters and spend the next 62 days making the case for her husband’s reelection.

PHOTOS: Protests of the DNC

“Make sure that every single person that you know within the sound of your voice, your touch, your breath, make sure you get to them," the first lady said. "Your friends, your neighbors, that nephew you haven’t seen for awhile, that college roommate you haven’t spoke to for decades. Anyone sitting around wondering what am I gonna do this election? Find 'em.”

She reminded the crowd that polls suggest the race against GOP nominee Mitt Romney is likely to go down to the wire, and pointed out that in 2008, her husband won the crucial swing state of Florida by only 236,000 votes.

“While that might sound like a lot, that’s just 36 votes per precinct, you know? Thirty-six votes! And if you think that’s close, don’t forget that we won North Carolina by just 14,000 votes. That’s just five votes per precinct. Five people! Starting the minute you get up from these seats, we need you to get out there and get your 36 people, and don’t stop until the polls close on Nov. 6.”

She even urged supporters to pick up stakes and rush to help the campaign in one of the dozen battleground states where the election will be decided.

PHOTOS: Scenes from the DNC

“If you don’t live in a battleground state, get to one," she said. "Fine the nearest battleground state and spend some time there.”

With her soaring popularity and powerful speaking style, the first lady has become her husband’s most effective surrogate. She had a busy schedule Wednesday to prove it. 

After speaking to the black caucus, she appeared before the Latino caucus, and though she gave the same speech (on Teleprompter) to both groups, she slightly tweaked the message for each.

She praised her husband for “cracking down on payday lenders who are preying on our families” at the black caucus. And she touted his support for the Dream Act -- which would have created a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants, but failed to pass Congress -- before the Latino group.

At noon, she was to headline a luncheon for the Human Rights Campaign.

PHOTOS: Best of the DNC

At the black caucus meeting, she was preceded on stage by her brother, Craig Robinson, a college basketball coach who said his sister was trying to make him cry when she spoke to the convention Tuesday night about their disabled father making his way up the stairs at the end of a long day at work, “just so he could come up and play catch with us or Monopoly or just read a story.”

“It made me proud,” Robinson said. “But more than anything, it inspired me. I left that speech last night and you know what I thought? I wanna play on that team! I wanna go to work for that family.”

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robin.abcarian@latimes.com

Twitter: @robinabcarian

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