Double-Header: Courthouse News reporters caught appearances by Michelle Obama today in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Check out the story on the First Lady’s afternoon rally at the bottom of this article!
By Lowell Neumann Nickey
PHILADELPHIA (CN) — The so-called millennial vote is a coveted demographic in Hillary Clinton’s race to the White House. Reaching out to them Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama met an enthusiastic reception at La Salle University.
More than 3,000 supporters filled the school’s Tom Gola Arena this morning to hear Obama talk about the importance of electing Clinton and keeping Trump out of the White House.
Introduced as “the definition of black-girl magic” by opening speaker Ludmille Glaude, a junior at La Salle who emigrated from Haiti at a young age, Obama walked on stage to a raucous cheer.
The First Lady explained to the crowd how bittersweet transitional times can be, joking about her husband’s need to “find a new job” in the coming months. She pointed out the importance of this transitional time in the nation, particularly for young people.
Obama said students can make a difference in helping to get out the vote by canvassing, phone banking, and even just talking to friends and family.
“It isn’t enough to just come to a rally and post some cute selfies,” she said.
Moving to the issues, Obama talked about the rising costs of college around the nation, and of Clinton’s commitment to making it more affordable. She lauded Clinton’s experience as a life-long public servant, from her advocacy work out of law school, to her acceptance of the secretary of state position after a humbling loss to Barack Obama in 2004.
“She is one of the most qualified people to ever run for president and one of the few people who knows what the job entails,” Obama said.
Though she did not mention Trump by name, Obama pointed out that voting for someone who makes “cruel and insulting comments about women” would be a mistake.
Obama also alluded to the need for an even-keeled president, not someone who “flies off the handle.”
Katie McGinty, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, had not hesitated to name names in her warm-up speech to the crowd.
“We’re gonna dump Trump,” McGinty said after mentioning Monday night’s presidential debate, the first of three on the road to election night. McGinty mentioned her own campaign as wel, and desire to “send Pat Toomey packing.”
Reactions from the crowd were positive. Thomas Hayes, a student from La Salle called the First Lady’s speech “extremely inspirational.”
Hayes said he thought Obama did a good job drawing a contrast between Clinton and Trump, and made it obvious that Clinton is “the candidate fighting for our generation.”
Younger supporters from nearby Girls High School were also present. Maya, Nyema and Akiah, three students from the school, said they were inspired by the First Lady’s urging the crowd not to let anyone take away their hopes and dreams.
Millennials were enthusiastic for Obama, but one lifelong Democrat in the crowd said organizers could have done more to hype them up.
“We need some chants, I want it to stick with the kids,” Sabrina Johnson said. “We need them to stay pumped after leaving.”
Johnson said the First Lady did a good job, “speaking on substance young people need to hear.”
The rally came on the heels of Hillary for Pennsylvania’s rollout of a new radio advertisement in Philadelphia, as well as the IWillVote.com website, which allows Pennsylvanians to check their voter-registration status, regardless of party affiliation.
By Charly Himmel
PITTSBURGH (CN) — With just a little over a month before Election Day, First Lady Michelle Obama seemed poised to combat voter apathy on Hillary Clinton’s campaign trail Wednesday, urging youth to get out and vote Democrat.
Just hours after speaking to students at La Salle University in Philadelphia, Obama spoke before an all-ages crowd at University of Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Field House.
The First Lady cited the invaluable role voters under 30 played in the 2008 presidential election, closing the gap in swing states such as Pennsylvania and Virginia by as little as 17 votes per precinct.
This year, “the stakes are far too high,” Obama said. “Elections aren’t just about who votes but who doesn’t. … If you don’t vote at all, you’re helping to elect her opponent.”
As in Philadelphia, that phrase “her opponent” was the closest Obama came in her 30-minute speech to mentioning Republican candidate Donald Trump.
Without saying the reality star’s name, Trump made several allusions to Trump’s “erratic” and “threatening” performance during Monday night’s first presidential debate.
“How do we sort through all the negativity and name-calling to choose the right person?” Obama asked. “A president cannot just ‘pop off.’ … We need a grown up in the White House.”
In his introduction to the First Lady, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald also called attention to Monday night’s debate.
“What was Donald Trump most proud of,” Fitzgerald asked. “He was most proud of not paying his fair share in taxes, housing-market crash, not paying the people to do the work. That’s not a value we share in Pittsburgh. We pay our fair share, and we pay our workers to do the work.”
Fitzgerald blamed Republicans for the economic recession, lost jobs and the housing-market crash that Obama inherited as president.
“Every time the Republicans come in and make a mess, it takes a Democratic president to come in and clean it up,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re going to skip that step this time.”
Obama said she is “inspired” by Clinton’s previous political experience, such as fighting for children’s health care as a New York senator and organizing peace talks as secretary of state in her husband’s first term.
“Nobody has had as much experience and exposure to the presidency — Not Barrack, not Bill, nobody,” Obama said.
University of Pittsburgh computer science major Iyanna Buffaloe said she walked in to Obama’s speech on the fence about Clinton, but left inspired by her credentials.
“She sold me,” Buffaloe said. “She had a lot of confidence in Hillary and how she’s qualified.”
This will be the first year Buffaloe is old enough to vote in a presidential election, and she said she looks forward to encouraging her friends to do the same.
A retired professor of public relations at Westminster College said she’s casting her ballot for Clinton as well.
“When you compare her to her opponent, there’s no contest,” professor Dolores Natale said.
Natale’s husband, Frank, a retired postmaster and veteran of the Vietnam War, said Obama did more than sell Clinton to the audience tonight.
“After Hillary is done, let’s put Michelle in,” Natale suggested.
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