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Michelle Obama: 'Hadiya Pendleton was me and I was her'

During a visit to Harper High School in Chicago, where several students have been shot and killed in the past year, First Lady Michelle Obama recalled the death of Hadiya Pendleton who was shot and killed one week after performing at the President's inauguration. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Obama said he's already me the GOP "more than halfway" on deficit reduction. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

First Lady Michelle Obama got emotional today in Chicago during a speech about gun violence. In front of a group of Chicago business and civic leaders the first lady’s voice cracked as she talked about meeting with the classmates of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago teenager who was shot and killed earlier this year.

“It is hard to know what to say to a roomful of teenagers that are about to bury their best friend.  But I started by telling them that Hadiya was clearly on her way to doing something truly worthy with her life. I told them that there is a reason that we're here on this earth. That each of us has a mission in this world and I urged them to use their lives to give meaning to Hadiya's life." The first lady continued, her voice breaking, "I urged them to dream as big as she did and work as hard as she did and live a life that honors every last bit of her God-given promise."

First Lady Michelle Obama makes an emotional plea for a vote on gun reform while remembering Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot in Chicago after performing at President Obama's inauguration.

Obama was the featured speaker at a luncheon that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel organized to urge local business leaders to raise $50 million for programs that serve at-risk youth. But her appearance was also a part of a coordinated White House effort this week to push Congress to vote on gun violence measures. The effort started with President Barack Obama's appearance Monday in Connecticut and will culminate with Vice President Joe Biden sitting down for a roundtable on gun violence on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," set to air Thursday morning.

The first lady echoed her husband's State of the Union speech: "Right now my husband is fighting as hard as he can and engaging as many people as he can to pass common-sense reforms to protect our children against gun violence. And these reforms deserve a vote in Congress."

And Obama spoke candidly about how she felt attending the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton.

"What I realized is Hadiya's family was just like my family. Hadiya Pendleton was me and I was her. But I got to grow up and go to Princeton and Harvard Law School and have a career and family and the most blessed life I can imagine. And Hadiya, well we know that story."

She slammed home her point about the need for community engagement as she continued to compare herself to the slain teen.

"See, at the end of the day, this is the point I want to make: That resources matter. ... I had a community that supported me and a neighborhood where I felt safe. And in the end that was the difference between growing up and becoming a lawyer, a mother and First Lady of the United States, and being shot dead at the age of 15. And that is why this new fund that you have created here in Chicago is so important."

Following her speech, Obama met with 19 students at a South Side high school where gun violence has had a profound impact on the student body. In the last year, Harper High has seen 29 current or former students shot. Eight of those victims died from their wounds.