Duke Political Review’s Gino Nuzzolillo attended First Lady Michelle Obama’s rally for Hillary Clinton on October 4 in Reynolds Coliseum at North Carolina State University.
Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in July was widely heralded as a “Speech for the Ages”, memorable for lines such as, “When they go low, we go high,” and her passionate advocacy for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The First Lady brought the same energy to an excited, packed crowd at North Carolina State’s William Neal Reynold’s Coliseum on Oct. 4. Building on many of the themes from her DNC speech, Mrs. Obama appeared to captivate the crowd with her engaging personality and sense of humor. At the beginning of her remarks, the First Lady joked “…we’ve got to move out of our house — you know, that White House? We’ve got move out…make sure it’s clean for the next occupants so we don’t lose our security deposit,” while the crowd welcomed her with loud laughter and applause.
Attendees heard from Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Deborah Ross and NC State student Kaitlin Perkins, among others, before the First Lady took the stage. Ross foreshadowed much of the topics in the First Lady’s speech, advocating for equitable pay, a higher minimum wage, affordable higher education, and high turnout from voters. While Ross did energize the crowd—an incredibly diverse group of young and old with a significant number of people of color—the anticipation for Mrs. Obama was palpable.
As pop music from the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift filled the intermission between Ross and Mrs. Obama, Kaelah, a middle school student from Durham, NC, discussed her reasons for attending the rally. “I love her…she’s very ‘pro-girl’…I can’t wait to see her,” she said. Three older girls who are eligible to vote, Omaimah, Mimrah, and Hunnain, from Raleigh, echoed Kaelah’s thoughts. They commented on the First Lady’s strong advocacy for women and her spoken eloquence. All four, however, expressed much less enthusiasm for the candidate the rally was supposed to support, Hillary Clinton. Nevertheless, all agreed that Michelle Obama’s support them more likely to vote for Clinton.
And the First Lady’s did indeed vociferously support Secretary Clinton. Obama relied on her unique perspective of the rigors of the Presidency to argue that Clinton was best prepared for the job. “So, trust me. I’ve been there. I’ve seen this job. I’ve lived with this job. Experience matters. Don’t be fooled. Preparation matters. Temperament matters. And Hillary Clinton has it all,” the First Lady said. The speech mostly functioned to reassure voters who are anxious about a rapidly changing world, most recently defined by events such as Brexit and the rise of hyper-nationalist, isolationist politicians like Donald Trump. Speaking of Mr. Trump: Mrs. Obama had some critical words for the Republican nominee. Referencing recent Trump antics, Mrs. Obama said, “I think we all agree that someone who is roaming around at 3 a.m. tweeting should not have their fingers on the nuclear codes. We need someone who is honest and plays by the rules because not paying taxes for years and years while the rest of us pay our fair share, see that does not make you smarter than the rest of us.” In all, the First Lady spoke for 35 minutes. She ended her speech with an appeal to rally attendees to vote and work on behalf of the campaign, citing President Obama’s close victory in North Carolina as an example of the need to avoid protest votes and work as hard as possible.
With only a month until the election, the First Lady will almost certainly continue campaigning for Hillary. Mrs.Obama’s powerful speeches and widespread popularity will provide a unique advantage for Secretary Clinton as the race enters the final stretch.
You can find the full transcript of the First Lady’s speech here.