Michelle Obama exhorted grassroots supporters on Thursday to keep working hard for her husband's re-election, saying the president has fought to keep the American dream alive for the middle class.
The first lady rallied more than 1,000 people at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, the first of three stops in the battleground state. She stressed the campaign's “It Takes One” initiative, which asks each supporter to inspire one more person to help President Barack Obama win another term.
“That could be the one that makes the difference in this election,” Michelle Obama said.
Pennsylvania voted for Barack Obama in 2008. The state has a strict new voter identification law, however, that critics say will disenfranchise likely Democratic supporters in November.
The law is being challenged in state court, and a judge is expected to rule this month. Michelle Obama did not refer to the law in her remarks.
Two events brought out Romney supporters in Philadelphia on Thursday.
The grand opening of the Philadelphia Victory Office on South 4th Street featured former Mass. lieutenant governor Kerry Healy. Later, Healy addressed a group of more than 80 campaign activists who gathered at the City Avenue Hilton for a grassroots training event.
Healy had a specific message for the crowd of mostly women, praising Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for having a cabinet that was 50 percent women when he was in office. Healy, who has a role in the campaign advising the candidate on foreign policy, said Romney now has a woman leading the search for his vice presidential running mate.
It was Healy who, as head of the Republican party in Mass, helped convince Romney to run for governor at a meeting they had during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
In Philadelphia, the First Lady listed the accomplishments of the president's first term, including the health care overhaul, auto bailout and winding down the war in Iraq. Obama also noted the president signed bills preventing student loan interest rates from doubling and providing more money for Pell grants for low-income college students.
Both she and the president had mountains of student debt, Obama said, adding that at one point their monthly student loan payments totaled more than their mortgage payment.
Her 30-minute speech also touched on the couple's humble backgrounds, saying they both come from families that worked hard and valued education.
“Barack knows the American dream because he's lived it,” she said.
Kerry Healy told area GOP supporters the answer to prosperity and job creation is first to repeal “Obamacare.” She said that will unleash an economic wave and turn the economy around, leading to Romney’s campaign promise of creating millions of new jobs.
“He’s going to be a champion of small business,” said Healy.
Earlier this month, a Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters in three key battleground states found the president leading presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney by 11 percentage points in Pennsylvania. The same poll showed women voters favored Obama over Romney by a 59 to 35 percent margin.
Obama is attending campaign events at Upper Dublin High School in suburban Fort Washington and farther north at Moravian College in Bethlehem.