PUEBLO, CO — First lady Michelle Obama is used to drawing cheers in with almost every sentence in crowds like these, full of supporters of President Obama exclusively.
But it's likes like this one today in southern Colorado that bring the house down"
"Like so many, like me, like so many of you , Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it," Michelle Obama told a crowd of over a thousand at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo. "It is his life. And he wants everyone who's willing to work hard to have that same opportunity."
In a city like Pueblo, where minorities make up more than 50 percent of the population and the median household income is well below the state's figure, the story of her and her husband's humble beginnings is sure to prompt a flurry of sign-waving and applause.
Mrs. Obama never mentions Mitt Romney's name on the stump, nor does she even use the euphemistic "the other guys" label beloved by Vice President Joe Biden. But her campaign pitch — on full display during a busy Western swing — relies heavily on the narrative of the first family's unlikely rise to the presidency, drawing a clear contrast to Romney as a wealthy political scion.
"I'm proud of my background," she starts out before launching into her usual telling of her father's work at a water plant on the south side of Chicago.
Weaving the tale of her dad's stoic pride in saving for his children's education and paying bills with meticulous punctuality, she appeared to fight a lump in her throat during a stop outside of Denver.
"That's what I think about every night when I tuck my girls in," she told over 2,500 backers in a high school gymnasium in Centennial. "I think about how I want to do for them what my dad did for me."
And the first lady, wrapping up a two-day campaign swing in battlegrounds Nevada and Colorado, reminded supporters that she and her husband were mired in student debt after college.
"When we first started out, our combined student loan bill was actually higher than our mortgage. How many people can relate to that?" she said in Pueblo as many nodded and clapped their assent.
Unlike campaign stops for both nominees and for Biden, Mrs. Obama's campaign events to date have been free of heckling; tickets are typically only distributed through Obama for America field offices and usually require volunteer service for the campaign or at least a lengthy wait in line.
Despite gentle references to controversial topics — like the Obama administration's repeal of the
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, push for the DREAM Act, and the White House's overhaul of health care — she pushed a message of inclusiveness in Denver, saying that the goals of equality and opportunity can be embraced by anyone regardless of political party.
"I don't care who we are," she said, in the only oblique reference to Republican opponents during the day. "The things I just talked about, every American in this country wants the same things."