State News

Michelle Obama Wows Crowd at Reynolds Coliseum

Posted April 8, 2008 9:27 p.m. EDT
Updated April 9, 2008 12:06 a.m. EDT

— Michelle Obama campaigned for her husband across North Carolina Tuesday, focusing on a commitment to change.

“I still think it is one step at a time. Barack and I are both focused on the change that needs to happen. And this excitement is important and needs to be harnessed,” she said in Raleigh during her last stop of a daylong tour of the state ahead of its May 6 primary.

Obama spoke to a crowd of about 5,000 at N.C. State University, where she got several standing ovations.

She talked passionately about the rising costs of heath care and about ending the war in Iraq.

Obama urged people to come together “so that we can get universal health care, improve our education system, end the war. There’s so much work we need to do, and we can't do it without that enthusiasm. Because that's the enthusiasm that pushes back special interests and lobbyists. That's the power that can be harnessed,” she said.

Earlier, Obama told a crowd of about 2,000 people at Winston-Salem State University that students are struggling to surpass the standards needed to get into college, only to struggle with the rising costs of tuition. It's no different with the nation's seniors, she said, who are discovering their pensions don't pay enough.

"Folks don't mind working hard," Obama said. "They don't mind a high bar. Some just want to know that the bar will be still – that's all they want to know."

Obama also met Tuesday with a group of about 50 women at a town-hall meeting in Harrisburg, just north of Charlotte.

She also said that it wasn't until Barack Obama wrote a pair of best-selling books that the couple escaped their student loan debt, an experience she said helps them understand everyday challenges better than policymakers in Washington understand them.

"We are not so far away from life that we don't understand and get it," Obama said.

At the Tuesday morning forum, the women said increases in the cost of gas, education and health care – along with an unstable job market – have taken a toll.

"The truth is, most Americans don't want much," Obama said. "Folks don't want the whole pie. Most Americans feel blessed to thrive a little bit – but that's out of reach for them."

Most of the Obamas' income in 2006, when they had $991,296 in annual income, came from royalties on the books. That was down from the nearly $1.7 million they received in 2005, a total also boosted by a book deal. The Obamas have not released their 2007 tax returns, but have pledged to do so later this month.

Obama's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination –- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York – reported earning $20.4 million along with her husband in 2007. Since leaving the White House, the Clintons have made nearly $109 million, much of it coming from book deals and Bill Clinton's speeches.