Raleigh, N.C. — First lady Michelle Obama stopped in Raleigh and Charlotte on Tuesday to drum up support among younger voters for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Thousands of people, many of them students, packed into Reynolds Coliseum on the campus of North Carolina State University to hear from Obama, who like her husband remains extremely popular with young adults.
"She's probably the most liked – and she's not even really a politician, per se – but yeah, she's probably the most liked in America," Alston Devega said.
Millennial voters helped Barack Obama win the White House twice, especially in 2012, but many say they're not very enthusiastic about either Clinton or Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump this year.
Democratic leaders are counting on both Obamas to fire them up and turn them out at the polls in the coming weeks.
"Elections aren't just about who votes, but who doesn't vote, and that's especially true for young people like many of you," Michelle Obama told the raucous crowd at N.C. State.
A WRAL News poll released Tuesday shows that likely voters in North Carolina between ages 18 and 34 favor Clinton over Trump by a whopping 14 percentage points. But they're also the least likely to actually turn out.
Emily Reichard said she plans to vote, but some of her friends won't.
"It's a mixture," Reichard said. "Some people are like, 'I don't like any of them, and I'm just not going to come vote,' and some are like, 'I'm so excited to get there.'"
In the 2008 election, President Obama won North Carolina by only about two votes per precinct, his wife said, adding that the stakes are just too high to opt out this year.
"Each of you could swing an entire precinct and win this election for Hillary just by getting yourselves, your friends, your family out to vote," she said. "But you could also swing an entire precinct for Hillary’s opponent with a protest vote, or by staying home out of frustration."
That message resonated with Devega and fellow St. Augustine's University student Reshae Green, who said lack of enthusiasm about voting isn't a problem on their campus.
"A lot of people my age and people I hang with that are my age, we’re really excited about voting," Green said. "We’re trying to get a lot of people to come out and register because it’s very important. We understand and we see what’s going on in our daily world with Black Lives Matter."
"If you look on our campus in particular, all the students are ready to vote," Devega agreed, "because this presidential election alone will determine what happens years and years in the future."
Michelle Obama echoed many of the themes of the Clinton campaign in her half-hour speech, including that Trump is ill-prepared to be serve as president and that he doesn't have the temperament for the position.
"It is the highest-stakes, most 24/7 job you can ever imagine," she said. "So, when it comes to the qualifications we should demand in a president, to start with, someone who will take the job seriously.
"We also need someone who is steady and measured because, when you're making live-or-death, war-or-peace decisions, a president can't just pop off or lash out irrationally," she continued. "I think we all agree that someone who's roaming around at 3 a.m. tweeting should not have their fingers on the nuclear codes."
Citing Trump's criticisms of women, veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and others during the campaign, Michelle Obama said Trump won't abandon those traits if he wins the White House.
"The presidency doesn't change who you are. It reveals who you are," she said.