First lady rallies in Downtown Miami for final South Florida push

First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the public about the upcoming election. Cayla Nimmo // Photo Editor
First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the public over the summer about the upcoming election. Cayla Nimmo // Photo Editor

First lady Michelle Obama joined singer Marc Anthony and actress Gabrielle Union in a grassroots rally on Thursday to urge citizens of South Florida to get out the vote.

The first lady spoke to a crowd of 4,000 people in the James L. Knight center, emphasizing the importance of early voting, especially in the last few days before the official election.

“I voted early,” the first lady said. “I voted for Barack Obama just in case you were wondering. I did it because I want to spend Election Day working to get the vote out.”

The first lady reminded voters that, in 2008, President Obama won Florida’s vote by 236,000 votes, which can be broken down into 36 votes per precinct.

“From now until November the sixth, we need you to keep on working and struggling and pushing like never before,” Michelle Obama said. “Because what I want people to remember, especially our young people, is that this is how change always happens in this country.”

Others speakers urged the crowd to action with the slogan “Fired up? Ready to go!” and focused on the personal nature of the campaign issues.

Union highlighted the importance of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill Obama signed into law. She also talked about ObamaCare and how it allows women to have control over their bodies. Obama stressed Union’s point by explaining how the president is aware and supportive of women’s issues because of his experiences with his mother and grandmother.

Their emphasis on women’s equality appealed to sophomore Nour Ghaddar, a volunteer for Canes for Obama.

“As a woman, I found her plea to our gender to keep the end goal in mind as we vote very touching,” Ghaddar said. “That end goal I speak of, of course, is equality. It baffles me that a woman could even consider voting for the other candidate with his lack of enthusiasm towards women’s rights.”

The first lady also spoke personally of her experience with the financial aid she needed for college and the importance of education that was instilled in her. She said she hopes every child will receive the same opportunity.

“This is about our kids because we want all of our kids to have a solid foundation for their dreams. We want to give all of our kids opportunities worthy of their promise,” she said. “We know that here in America we always move forward, we always make progress and in the end that is what this is about.”

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Ashley Martinez is a senior majoring in journalism and psychology, which have sharpened her people-watching skills. She has worked as a staff writer, copy editor, assistant editor and is now the Edge arts and entertainment editor at The Miami Hurricane. She serves as the president of UM's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Her work has been featured in The Hurricane, Distraction Magazine, The Communique, Gables Home Page and The Miami Herald. When she's not working on a story, she loves going to the theatre and singing show tunes.