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First lady tells Seattle supporters ‘we cannot turn back now’

By Brian M. Rosenthal, The Seattle Times –

SEATTLE—Michelle Obama rallied support for her husband’s re-election campaign Tuesday night in downtown Seattle, recounting his accomplishments and imploring the approximately 700 fundraiser attendees to “work like never before.”

“It’s on us now. It’s up to us. Because all our hard work, all the wonderful progress that we’ve made, it’s all on the line this November,” she said. “We cannot turn back now. Not now.”

It was a standard stump speech for the popular first lady in a deeply Democratic state. As in past visits by her husband, she did not hold any public events. But the campaign did raise hundreds of thousands of dollars—guests paid between $500 and $10,000 to attend.

Most of the speech consisted of the first lady’s recap of the past four years, from when her husband inherited an economy “on the brink of collapse” to 30 consecutive months of private-sector job growth, an overhauled health-care system, a rescued auto industry, the death of Osama bin Laden and the end of the war in Iraq.

“I could go on and on and on, but here’s what I really want you to tell (undecided voters),” she said. “Tell them that Barack Obama knows the American dream because he’s lived it and he’s fighting every day to make sure each and every one of us can have that same opportunity.”

Michelle Obama, who according to polls is more popular than her husband, also used the event to describe her upbringing and that of the president. As she did in a well-received speech in August at the Democratic National Convention, she used their stories to make a point about fairness, which has become a central issue in the campaign.

The speech in Seattle was a hit with the audience, that at times interrupted with standing ovations—most forcefully when the first lady promised that her husband would always protect a woman’s right to choose.

Attendees at the Seattle event included longtime Seattle congressman Jim McDermott, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Suzan DelBene, who is running for Congress in the 1st District.

Trudi Inslee, wife of gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee, attended briefly before leaving to watch her husband debate Republican Rob McKenna on TV.

The first lady knows something about what that’s like—the president has a debate of his own scheduled for Wednesday night at the University of Denver—but she hardly mentioned the debate or Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

National polls now show that Obama holds a narrow lead over Romney, including in important swing states such as Ohio and Florida.

Despite that lead, Michelle Obama urged attendees to volunteer as much as possible in the 35 days before the election.

“We need you to talk to everyone you know. Your friends, your neighbor, that nephew you haven’t seen in a while—you know that nephew,” she said. “If you do that, we can win Washington state.”

The campaign isn’t actually worried about the state, of course: The latest poll, released last month by KING 5, showed the president leading Romney 54-36 percent.

The Obama campaign has raised more than $6.8 million from state donors, while Romney has raised about $3.3 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The president last visited the state in July, when he attended a pair of fundraisers in Hunts Point.

His wife hasn’t been here since October 2010, when she and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, campaigned for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who was running for re-election against Republican Dino Rossi.

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