FORT LAUDERDALE — It took hours standing in line in the blazing sun. What followed for many was another hour-plus on their feet. And then a message imploring them to get to work.
But no one complained.
The crowd, some 2,500 strong, loved every minute of the late-afternoon campaign rally Wednesday featuring first lady Michelle Obama, who delivered a passionate and positive recounting of her husband's presidency — and repeatedly pushed people to fan out for the next 11 weeks to deliver a message of support to their families, co-workers and friends.
"This election like so many others could come down to those last few thousand votes, especially in states like Florida," she said, "so you understand the power that you have."
She touched on priorities important to various voting blocs critical to President Barack Obama's hopes of winning a second term.
Obama noted the DREAM Act, which allows undocumented young immigrants to stay and work, an issue important to many Hispanic voters. She said he fights for everyone's rights — regardless "of who we love," a nod to gays and lesbians.
And, she told the crowd, the election is critical for women. "Make sure that you tell people that your president believes that women should be able to make our own choices about our health care."
That reference to Democratic support and Republican opposition to abortion rights generated a roar of approval that was the loudest, most sustained reaction during the 33-minute speech at War Memorial Auditorium — a venue typically devoted to gun shows and roller derby meets.
Obama also took on the central criticism presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney levels at her husband: the economy. She said her husband inherited an economy that was losing 750,000 jobs a month. But, she said, he's turned it around and jobs have been growing for the last 29 months.