Michelle Obama Visits North Carolina

Sep 20, 2012

First lady Michelle Obama was in Durham and Greenville yesterday to help get out the vote for her husband. With less than two months to go before election day, polls show the race is close between President Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. Jessica Jones reports the Obama campaign is hoping younger voters will help the president win North Carolina a second time.

Jessica Jones: A crowd of more than three thousand people greeted first lady Michelle Obama in a stadium at North Carolina Central University in Durham yesterday. She told the crowd those who haven't decided who to vote for need to know why her husband should get four more years in the White House.

Michelle Obama: Tell them about the millions of jobs Barack has created. Tell them about the health reform he passed, tell them about all those kids who can finally attend college. Tell them how Barack ended the war in Iraq. Tell them how we as a nation took out Osama Bin Laden. Tell them how Barack fought to get veterans and military families the benefits they earned.

Mrs. Obama didn't mention Mitt Romney by name, but she referred to her middle-class upbringing by talking about how she and her husband had large student loans to pay off after college and law school. Earlier this week, news broke that Romney had told donors he wasn't worried about courting the roughly half of the country that doesn't pay federal income taxes. Mrs. Obama also talked about the president's support for doubling Pell Grant funding and keeping student loan interest rates down. And she said it's important to keep moving forward.

Obama: Are we going to turn around and go back to the same policies that got us into the hole in the first place? Are we going to just sit back and watch everything we've worked for and fought for to just slip away? Or are we going to keep moving this country forward? What are we going to do?

Back in 2008, President Obama won North Carolina by just 14 thousand votes. And it's expected to be another close race this year. In a survey released last week, Public Policy Polling puts the president one point ahead of Romney here. But Rasmussen shows Obama trailing Romney by six points. Mrs. Obama says the 14 thousand vote victory that put her husband in the White House translates to five votes per precinct in this state.

Obama: The folks in this stadium could swing an entire precinct for Barack Obama, all by yourselves. Five votes, and if we win enough precincts, we will win this state. And if Barack wins North Carolina, we will be well on our way to putting Barack in the White House for four more years.

The Obama campaign is working hard to sign up voters. The campaign's voter registration website permits people in a number of states including North Carolina to sign their names to a registration form using a smartphone or tablet. That form is then mailed automatically to a local elections office. At yesterday's event, North Carolina campus organizer Domonique James told the crowd they could also register then and there.

Domonique James: We have an amazing team here helping to make sure that all of you are registered to vote, and signed up to help out. They'll be going around with clipboards, so please take advantage and sign up to volunteer. That way we won't just see you today, but we'll work together to win this election in November.

After the event, spectators spilled out onto the stadium's steps, where volunteers were already helping sign up voters.

Volunteer and Brian Saunders: Were you registered before at a different address? Yes. Do you remember the full address there? Yes, I do I do, even your zip? Yes…

Brian Saunders was filling out a form with the help of a volunteer holding a clipboard. He's a senior at Central who's moved a few times during college- he wanted to make sure his current address was on file. He says Mrs. Obama has also inspired him to help get out the vote.

Saunders: I'm going to try and volunteer as much as I can, seeing as I only have two classes. And that's one per week, one per day. So I'm going to do my best to get out here in the streets and help people register to vote.

The next step for the Obama campaign is to make sure those people actually get to the polls and cast their votes.