Michelle Obama stages an 11th-hour campaign marathon on behalf of Democrats

First lady Michelle Obama encourages democrats to get out and vote in a rally on Monday night at the University of Pennsylvania.
By Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 2, 2010; 8:35 AM

PHILADELPHIA - Michelle Obama made one last cross-country campaign swing Monday, pleading with Democrats from Nevada to Pennsylvania to go to the polls so that her husband could finish what he started.

"I know for a lot of folks change has not come fast enough. â?¦ It has not come fast enough for Barack either," she said in Las Vegas, where she traveled to help embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). "The truth is, this is the hard part of change. â?¦This election is about all we have left to do."

Eight hours later, 4,000 supporters stood in the cold for three hours at the University of Pennsylvania campus for a chance to see her at a spirited rally for Senate candidate Rep. Joe Sestak.

Sestak is locked in a bitter battle with Pat Toomey, a former congressman and tea party-supported Republican, in one of a handful of races that will decide whether Democrats retain control of the Senate. President Obama and Bill Clinton have also passed through Pennsylvania in the past few days trying to energize people to vote.

The first lady sounded broad, inspirational themes, rather than focusing solely on Sestak.

"Regardless of where we are from or what we look like or how much money we have, we all want something better for kids," she said. "That is what the American dream is all about. But for too many folks, the dreams is slipping away."

Speaking of the 2008 presidential race, she said. "Our campaign was never about sending one man to the White House. It was about building a movement for change. â?¦ My husband can't do this alone He needs strong leaders in Washington.

She spoke to a crowd receptive to the Democratic message.

Jodi Lasko, 26, a post-college veterinary student, stood studying for a test at dusk as the line crawled along. A New Jersey native, she has registered to vote in Pennsylvania to make sure her voice is heard in the Senate race.

"The Democrats just understand health issues - they get what I'm studying to do," she said. "People think [veterinary medicine] is about cats and dogs - but it's about public health and food safety and a lot of serious issues. I'm going to owe $250,000 in loans, and the president has talked about help people like me if we go to work where we're needed."

Michelle Obama ended her speech by imploring people to vote, and she then worked the crowd before returning to Washington.

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