Las Vegan Carla O’Neil attended the political rally on Tuesday starring Michelle Obama, wife of the Democratic presidential candidate.
But O’Neil didn’t see Obama as some distant celebrity. She said Obama connected with the crowd in a way that it seemed as if one were sitting across from the would-be first lady at a kitchen table.
O’Neil was one of thousands cheering as they greeted Obama as she walked to the podium at Plaza Park, waving and smiling to the crowd under a warm October sun.
Obama noted that there were many young faces in the crowd.
“When Barack first started developing this organization, a lot of people said, ‘Don’t waste time on young people because they like to come to a rally, but they don’t vote — they’re not going to get out and walk the streets and knock on doors.’ But fortunately Barack didn’t listen and he built an organization that was grounded on hard-working young people,” Obama said to cheers.
But she said she also wanted to pay respects to the “not so young,” saying they have been the backbone.
Obama said the spirit she’s seen from people all over the country in the last several years has been amazing.
“While I’d like to give the credit to my husband, who I think is wonderful, the truth is Barack said on the day he announced that this race is not about him, and never will be or should be about him. He said this race is about all of us, all of you,” Obama said.
“Our stories, how we’ve all come to this journey, are all so very different and interesting. I come here as a wife and I’ve seen my husband this year. I’ve seen how he’s performed, how he’s grown, how he’s stayed consistent and true, and I know in my heart and soul that he will be a phenomenal president of the United States,” Obama said.
Obama said she also comes to Las Vegas as a mother.
“First and foremost, I’m mom-in-chief, and I have tried my hardest, during this period, to give my girls a better quality of life. Because like any mother, like any parent, my children are the reason why I breathe, so for me all our children’s future is our stake in this election.”
Obama became emotional as she spoke of her father, whom she said isn’t here to see all this. She said she is where she’s at because of all of his hard work and sacrifice.
“I tell this story everywhere I go because he was a working-class man,” she said. “He didn’t go to college. Neither of my parents went to college, but they went to work and worked hard. My father had multiple sclerosis and he never complained, he was never late and never missed a day of work because the beauty of men like my father was that they were proud that they could get up and go to work, every day, and take care of their families. With their hard work my parents produced two kids that went to college, maybe one of them to become the next first lady of the United States.”
Obama said some of the issues that are at stake in this election are the broken economy, a health care system that is bankrupting millions of people, the war in Iraq and care for the troops when they come home.
“And we’re going to ensure that we’re handing over a planet that is clean and safe and secure for the next generation. All of these issues are not just political for me. This isn’t politics; it’s personal for me and it’s personal for all of us. That’s why so many of us are here and feeling so passionate,” Obama said.
Obama said it doesn’t matter who you are, what color your skin is, what your political party might be or what your religion is, she said all of us are feeling the challenges facing America.
“We’re all feeling it, we feel it when we go fill up the gas tank and that $20 just doesn’t go where it used to go, or we go to the grocery store only to find we can’t buy the kind of food we used to buy for our kids. The prices are going up and the salaries are stagnant, and we all feel it right now,” Obama said.
In recent years, Las Vegas has attracted its share of national candidates. In 2004, John Edwards, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich and Wesley Clark all visited.