IOWA CITY -- The presidential campaign may be on pause on the East Coast.
But away from the battering rains and winds of Hurricane Sandy, Michelle Obama carried on, rallying Obama supporters to vote early.

On a sunny and crisp 50 degree day in Iowa, where the hurricane will have no direct effect on the election, the first lady said "our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy, and Barack has assured state and local authorities that he is going to cut through red tape" before launching into an emotional campaign speech that had echoes of her remarks last month at the Democratic National Convention.

"This election is a choice about the America that we want to leave for our kids and our grandkids," Obama said to a ballroom of supporters here Monday afternoon. She praised her husband's record, citing his health-care overhaul, the end of the war in Iraq and the killing of Osama bin Laden.

"Yes, while we still have more work to do to completely rebuild our economy, there are more and more signs everyday that we are moving in the right direction," the first lady continued, citing more than 30 months of private sector growth.

Late Monday afternoon she is scheduled to hold a similar event in Sioux City. Iowa is where the road to the White House began for the Obamas in 2008, and Michelle Obama said being back in the state brought her to a "full circle" moment.

She told the crowd she was not going to cry in front of the cameras.

Following her remarks, she encouraged the Obama supporters in attendance to walk across the plaza from the Sheraton Hotel where her event was held to cast their ballots early at the public library nearby.

"I already voted," she said, telling the crowd she sent in her absentee ballot so that she would be free to work on turning out voters on Nov. 6. She encouraged them to do the same.

The first lady, who has been a prolific campaigner and fundraiser, left Washington, D.C. Sunday night and stayed overnight in her hometown of Chicago before flying into Iowa Monday morning for the two Iowa rallies. She will stay overnight in Chicago Monday to avoid the storm battering the East Coast. Her next public event is Wednesday when she and the president are scheduled to hand out candy during the annual White House Halloween celebration.