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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

First Lady Michelle Obama rallies supporters in Orlando, Miami Lakes




First Lady Michelle Obama pumps her fist during a speech Tuesday at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. (Times photo, Willie J. Allen Jr.)

If Americans viewed President Barack Obama as favorably as they do his wife, he’d be sitting pretty four months before election day.

Instead, he’s locked in a neck-and-neck race with Mitt Romney and deploying the popular first lady as a potent campaign asset.

“From now until November, we are going to need all of you to get out there and tell everybody you know about how Barack is on our side, fighting for the values that we believe in and the vision that we all share,” Michelle Obama told more than 2,800 people Tuesday at a campaign rally at Barbara Goleman Senior High in Miami Lakes.

“You can tell them how Barack is fighting for working families, starting with tax cuts, so folks can keep more of their income for the things they need, like gas and groceries and school clothes for their kids.”

Grassroots rallies in Miami Lakes and later at the University of Central Florida in Orlando marked Mrs. Obama’s first public campaign events in Florida this election cycle. The crowds greeted her as no less a star than the president, with her fans standing in long lines in sweltering heat to see her.

“Today is my birthday so I get to see Michelle on my birthday quite by the grace of God, that’s all, and being a volunteer,” said Juliette Love, 64, a campaign volunteer from Lauderdale Lakes.

At UCF, where more than 2,200 packed a gymnasium, retired postal worker William Saunders of Seminole County noted the first lady’s support for veterans and her ability to connect with average people.

“I think it’s because of her upbringing,’’ Saunders said. “She didn’t come from a whole bunch of money. Her father was a struggling blue-class worker, so I think she relates very well to the middle class. She is a huge asset — to the United States and to the Obama campaign.”

Story here.

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 7:49pm]


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