First lady Michelle Obama fires up crowd at final N.C. rally

The Charlotte ObserverNovember 6, 2012 

First lady Michelle Obama repeated Monday what her husband did four years ago – held an election eve rally in Charlotte and urged supporters to stay “fired up” for one more day.

“It’s all going to come down to what happens in a few key battleground states like North Carolina,” Obama told more than 4,000 people who jammed a hanger at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. “… It’s all at stake tomorrow.”

After her white plane pulled up to the open hanger, Obama jogged toward the waiting crowd and bounded on stage. The last-day sprint would also take her to Florida and Iowa.

In Des Moines, she was scheduled to meet her husband, who also had campaigned Monday in Ohio and Wisconsin.

All are among the battlegrounds where both Obama and Republican Mitt Romney have increasingly staked their time and money, and where Tuesday’s election is expected to turn.

In North Carolina, several polls give Romney a narrow lead. Others continue to find a dead-even race. Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling Monday said its final surveys suggest North Carolina and Florida “may be the closest states in the country this year.”

Both campaigns have invested heavily in the battlegrounds, including North Carolina.

NBC News reported Monday that the presidential campaigns and their allies have spent $69 million on political ads in North Carolina, more than in all but five states in the country.

Democrats also have touted their ground game in the Tar Heel State. By the time early voting ended Saturday night, 1.3 million Democrats had cast ballots, compared with 866,000 Republicans and 569,000 unaffiliated voters.

As if to show the president’s campaign hadn’t given up on North Carolina, Michelle Obama was the third high-profile visitor to the state since Friday. On Sunday, former President Bill Clinton drew 4,000 people to a rally in Raleigh. Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, campaigned Friday in Huntersville and Asheville.

2008 was close in N.C.

The president is trying to replicate his 2008 performance, when he became the first Democrat in 32 years to carry the state, winning it by 14,000 votes. The day before that election, he spoke to 20,000 people at UNC Charlotte.

Michelle Obama alluded to the narrowness of that win.

The 14,000 vote margin, she said, worked out to five votes per precinct. She urged supporters to keep that in mind as they rally friends to the polls.

“I want you to remind them of those five votes,” she said. “The difference in this election can be one vote in your neighborhood. … So our job is to reach out and get to that one person.”

Obama cast the election as a choice, and touted her husband’s accomplishments, including the renaissance of Detroit. When he took office, she said, the auto industry, like the economy, was in the tank.

“Some people were willing to let the auto industry go under – you know who I’m talking about,” she said.

Obama also spoke to women, one of her husband’s key constituencies. The PPP poll, for example, showed women support the president by 54 percent to 46 percent, while men favor Romney 54 percent to 44 percent.

“We know Barack will always have our backs,” she said. “Our president will always fight so that we as women can always make decisions about our bodies.”

Singer Mariah Carey spoke before Obama but didn’t sing. Two entertainers traveling with the president, however, did.

Springsteen, Jay-Z

Bruce Springsteen sang at rallies in Madison, Wis., and Columbus, Ohio. Jay-Z joined him in Columbus. At one point, Obama was aboard Air Force One on the phone with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie discussing the recovery from Superstorm Sandy. Christie, who says he has attended more than 100 Springsteen concerts, said Obama then handed the phone to Springsteen, a New Jersey native whose songs often have been tributes to his youth in the state.

Springsteen serenaded audiences with renditions of top anthems “No Surrender,” “Promised Land” and “Land of Hope and Dreams.” But he also has a custom-made campaign song named after the Obama motto “Forward” – “Not the best I’ve ever written.”

One of the people who attended Michelle Obama’s rally in Charlotte was Eion Mckend, 67. He said the first lady’s remarks inspired him to work even harder for the campaign on Election Day.

“It just gives you a little extra inspiration,” he said. “She is so phenomenal.”

The Associated Press contributed.

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