A crowd of 400 gathered Tuesday at the community center in Windsor Heights to hear First Lady Michelle Obama urge the audience of campaign volunteers to stay focused and fired up because the presidential election could be a very tight race.
“I just want you to remember that in the end, this could come down to the last few thousand people we register to vote or help to get to the polls in November. On the sixth of November,” Obama said.
Obama added: “I have said this before, Iowa, and you’ve heard me say it. He cannot do this alone. He needs you to help him.”
“We’ll help!” a woman yelled back.
The first lady never mentioned Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee, but repeatedly stressed that her husband has a “core” of values. The problems that cross a president’s desk “are always the hard ones and there’s no margin for error,” she said.
“In the end … it all boils down to who you are and what you stand for. And we all know who my husband is,” Obama said.
The first lady met privately with campaign donors and a few selected top grassroots organizers, including former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge and Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky, before she took the stage for 20 minutes.
Introducing Obama was CeCe Ibson, 48, of Des Moines, who told her personal story about why she’s grateful for the federal health care reform law that requires insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
Ibson, a lawyer, said she had good health care coverage while she was caring for her husband, Jay Wagner, before he died of cancer in 2009. Then she lost her job, and she couldn’t find a company willing to insure her, partly because of a pre-existing condition: degenerative disc disease.
Ibson is now in one of the insurance pools for people with pre-existing conditions.
“I’ve yet to hear from a person who’s lost their insurance who thinks what people call ‘Obamacare’ is a bad idea,” Ibson said earlier as she waited in line for the Secret Service security check. “I was 45 years old with two children when I lost mine. You don’t think it’s going to happen to you until it does.”
“I want to say two words my husband and I cannot say enough, and that is thank you,” she said.
Obama hailed the volunteers for putting in long hours to make calls, register voters and to give “folks the information they need about the issues they care about.”
“I understand we that now have volunteers in all 99 counties of this state,” she said. “That is amazing.”
She urged the volunteers to reach out. “We bring folks from all different backgrounds into this democratic process, right? And that’s how we did it four years ago and that’s how we’re going to get it done again today,” she said.
The crowd chanted: “FOUR MORE YEARS.”
Obama said she knows there’s a reason they’re devoting their lives to the campaign.
“It’s not just because we want to win an election. We’re doing this because of the values we believe in,” she said.
She said they want children to have schools that inspire them and prepare them for good jobs, clean air and safe streets, and a world that’s peaceful and secure. They want their parents and grandparents to retire with dignity.
“We believe that hard work should pay off and that everybody should do their fair share and play by the same rules,” she said. “And really, those are basic American values.
“You need to tell people our values. Tell them everything that’s at stake next November. You tell them how Barack was for tax cuts for working families and small businesses. … Remember Barack had the backs of American workers.”
Among those there to see the first lady were Democratic activists such as Carline Phillips of Waukee and Frances Colston of West Des Moines.
— From a pool report provided to media outlets