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Michelle Obama speaks in DC

From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli and NBC's Cherelle Kantey
WASHINGTON -- Calling herself a "working mom," Michelle Obama received a warm welcome today as she spoke about family issues to a crowd that included some of Hillary Clinton's top backers.

She praised the effort of the National Partnership for Women and Families to expand policies like paid medical leave and equal pay. "We can work together to make a more mom- and family-friendly nation," she said. "It's time for the leaders of this country not only to champion these causes but to fight for the issues every single day."

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Obama also talked about the demands that campaigning have had on the family, even if her two daughters haven't been fazed by the attention.

"I've always been and will probably always been in some way, shape, or form a working mom," she said. "I used to get up in the morning and go to an office. Now I get up and go to plane, stand before thousands of people. My kids still don't care where I am. They've always known two parents to work in the household, and as long as we're back in time for bedtime they could care less where we are."

Obama also singled out EMILY's List's Ellen Malcolm -- a board member of the Partnership and a top Clinton supporter -- for her efforts to elect women across the country.

Speaking earlier, Malcolm struck a note for unity, saying that though one candidate emerged from the primary with more delegates, "both candidates emerged as winners."

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick immediately followed Michelle Obama, whom he called a "force of nature." "I'm so proud of you, I can't stand it," Patrick said of the potential future first lady.  

Patrick quickly moved to an appeal to former Clinton supporters, using Obama-style rhetoric to unite the bloc of women voters behind Obama's candidacy and saying he knows there are people out there who have "deep frustration" that her road to the White House has ended.

"Nothing ended this month," said Patrick. "And nothing will unless we come together."

Patrick complimented both candidates on their historic runs for the presidency, saying that both Clinton and Obama have the ability to inspire young people. "Thanks to Hillary Clinton, my daughters own imagination is broader," said Patrick. "And thanks to Obama, ethnicity isn't destiny."

"The long march to gender equity didn't end," he added, rallying the group to come together to support women's issues. "Whether we mourn one campaign, or celebrate another, the national community is not repaired."

Patrick's rhetoric was reminiscent of an Obama stump speech about uniting the country behind a message of hope. "The nation is ready to consider new politics," he said. "[But] it requires all of us to reach across our differences, see a stake in our neighbor's dreams and struggles."

Months after the Clinton campaign accused Obama of borrowing lines from Patrick speeches, the Massachusetts governor seemed to repeat familiar themes used on the Obama trail. He remarked about the pressing need for change in Washington, similar to Obama's line about Dr. Martin Luther King's "fierce urgency of now."

"People say, why are you so impatient?" he said. "I say, 'why aren't you?' We don't have time for division. Let's get on with it."