Orlando, Fla. -- Speaking before a crowd of more than 2,000 Tuesday at the University of Central Florida, First Lady Michelle Obama listed President Barack Obama’s initiatives during his first term – including his recent executive order to stop deporting undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children – and said those policies are all “on the line” in November’s election.
“In the end, it all boils down to one simple question. Are we going to continue the change we begun, the progress we made?” Obama said. “Are we going to let everything that we fought for to just slip away?”
“We cannot turn back now,” she added. “We need to keep moving forward.”
The reference to President Barack Obama’s announcement last month that he had moved to block the deportation of hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants was perhaps an indication of how crucial Florida – rich in Latino votes – has become in an increasingly tight election.
“He knows and believes that it is time to stop denying responsible, young people opportunities in this country because they’re the children of undocumented immigrants. It’s time to stop that,” Obama said of her husband’s support for the DREAM act, which would offer a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have graduated from high school.
The measure has been held up in Congress since 2010.
According to pool reports earlier in the day, Obama made a quick surprise visit to the Blanchard Park YMCA in a mostly Hispanic neighborhood in Orlando. Many children recognized her – one girl covered her grin with both hands but could not hide it. Another asked for a hug.
At the university, Obama spoke for about 25 minutes inside the basketball arena. A state fire official estimated there were 2,251 people in the bleachers and on the gym floor.
There was no mention of the president’s opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, or of class and money – prominent themes in the attack ads released by both sides.
Still, Obama made a careful pitch of her husband as an ordinary man, whose origins as the son of a single mother “who struggled to put herself through school and pay the bills” leavens his judgment in office.
“I have seen how as president you are going to get all kind of advice for all kinds of people,” Obama said. “But at the end of the day, let me tell you when it comes time to make that decision as president, all you have to guide you are your life experiences. All you have to direct you are your values.”
"We all know who my husband is, don’t we?" Obama added. "We all know what Barack Obama stands for, don’t we?”