Michelle Obama grew up the daughter of a Chicago firefighter and a housewife. She knows the struggle of “regular folks,” she said yesterday during one of her first campaign stops in North Carolina this year.
The struggle can isolate and divide, she said, but if her husband, Sen. Barack Obama, is elected to be the next president, then the American people could work toward something different, change that could bring the nation back together.
Obama spoke for about an hour to more than 2,000 people in the C.E. Gaines Center at Winston-Salem State University.
“We need a fundamentally different kind of leadership that we have not seen in my lifetime,” she said. “We need someone who is going to inspire us to be a different kind of nation, to treat one another better.
“Life has gotten hard for regular folks,” she said. “When you live in a nation where regular folks are struggling every day to catch an ever-moving bar, then what you find is that we are more susceptible to division.”
Obama told the crowd that her parents had a single income for the family, but they sent her and her brother to Princeton, she said. Though the economy has changed, she said, every child in the country should be able to have big dreams.
“Barack understands that our greatest challenge as a nation is that we are suffering from a deficit of empathy,” she said.
Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., are battling for the Democratic presidential nomination. The winner will face Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the expected presidential candidate for the Republicans.
Barack Obama and Clinton are in a tight race, and North Carolina’s primary on May 6 has emerged as a key contest, with 115 delegates at stake. Both candidates have stepped up campaigning in the state.
Clinton spoke in Winston-Salem at Forsyth Technical Community College last month, and former President Bill Clinton did a seven-city tour in North Carolina.
Barack Obama also spoke in Greensboro last month.
Michelle Obama stopped in Harrisburg yesterday morning, then came to Winston-Salem. She spoke in Raleigh last night.
Barack Obama earned at least one more supporter from his wife’s visit to Winston-Salem yesterday.
Gwen Walter, a teacher at Forsyth Tech who has lived in Winston-Salem for 37 years, said that yesterday’s speech moved her.
“She was real, she was motivational, a very good speaker,” Walter said. “I like her sense of humor, the fact that she really engaged with the audience.”
“I’ve been a Hillary supporter,” Walter said. “I haven’t really liked the tactics of Hillary’s campaign, so I wanted to come and hear what she had to say, and I thought she was wonderful.”
Jackie Baldwin, a senior at WSSU, a single mother and an eight-year survivor of breast cancer, introduced Michelle Obama as the next first lady of the United States yesterday.
“Barack Obama gives us a reason once again to believe … because he is running a campaign that is not just about him, it’s about us. It’s about the ability to change our country,” Baldwin said.
Michelle also spoke in Raleigh.
from that appearance.