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With focus on community and "American Dream," First Lady aims to grow grass roots

WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- With just over 100 days to go before Election Day, Barack Obama's closest surrogate is trying to ensure that the grass-roots movement that launched him to victory in 2008 doesn't wither this year. 

In a two-stop swing in battleground state Ohio on Tuesday, first lady Michelle Obama formally unveiled the Obama team's "It Takes One" effort, a volunteer-focused drive to draw the friends and neighbors of existing supporters into community outreach on the president's behalf. 

Her remarks in Westerville and Dayton closely tracked with her typical stump speech, with a particular spotlight cast on her husband's belief in an inclusive "American Dream."

"He believes that when you've worked hard and done well and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you," she told about 2,000 supporters in a Columbus suburb. "You reach back and you give other people a chance to succeed as well. That's what the American Dream is about."  

As usual, the first lady did not mention Mitt Romney or Republicans by name, but her focus on her family's humble beginnings offered an implicit contrast to the Republican nominee. 

"My husband understands that promise, because that's his story too," she said of the president. "That's why I married him." 

Mrs. Obama's "It Takes One" pitch urges supporters to include one additional acquaintance in their campaign volunteerism at phone banks and voter registration drives. 

The new effort's rollout was originally slated for last Friday, when the first lady was to appear in Charlottesville and Fredericksburg, Va., but those rallies were canceled in the wake of the Aurora shootings. 

She warned Ohio supporters Tuesday that a single voter could make the difference in November's projected razor-thin margins in some electoral battlegrounds. 

That energy will be crucial in battleground states like Ohio, where Obama beat Republican John McCain by a comfortable four percentage points in 2008. Stopping after her Dayton rally at a local field office, the first lady promised a strong presence in the Buckeye State. 

"We're going to spend a lot of time in Ohio," she told the recipient of her surprise VIP call as she spent several minutes working the phone banks alongside Obama for America volunteers.