GREENVILLE, N.C. – First Lady Michelle Obama continued to embrace her role as President Barack Obama's chief character witness on Wednesday, telling thousands of young North Carolinians that her husband is an inclusive leader with compassion for all Americans.
"As president, you have to be driven by the struggles, hopes and dreams of all the people you serve," Michelle Obama told the 3,100 gathered at a rally in Durham, emphasizing the word "all."
"As president, you truly need a strong inner compass, you know, a core commitment to your fellow citizens," she said. "That's how you make the right decisions for this country."
She went on to tell the crowd that the president "has been struggling with us. And together, slowly but surely, we have been pulling ourselves out of that hole we started in."
The first lady did not mention GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney or Republicans during two rallies on college campuses in North Carolina. But her message drew a noticeable contrast with the recently-unearthed video of Romney telling supporters at a fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans do not "take personal responsibility" and "who believe that they are victims.” Romney conceded in the video that he is not reaching out to those voters because he cannot win their vote.
The Obama campaign jumped on the comments in a fundraising email. And Tuesday night, President Obama told David Letterman, "If you want to be president, work for everyone, not just for some." Vice President Joe Biden declined to answer questions about the former Massachusetts governor's remarks earlier this week.
Michelle Obama spoke to predominantly young and African American crowds at North Carolina Central University and East Carolina University.
She remained optimistic that the president could win the Tar Heel State in November, as he did four years ago, although polling shows him trailing behind Romney.
Not only did Obama encourage the college-aged crowd to vote, but she urged them to take advantage of the state's early voting that begins next month.
"Vote early. You know how you all are," she said, joking that young people have a habit of oversleeping or forgetting Election Day. A win in North Carolina, she said, would put the president on track to reelection.
"We cannot turn back now," the first lady said in Greenville. "We have come so far, but we have so much more work to do."