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October 21, 2017

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First lady fires up supporters with stop in Henderson


Sam Morris

First lady Michelle Obama waves to supporters during a campaign stop in Henderson Tuesday, June 19, 2012.

First lady Michelle Obama in Henderson

First lady Michelle Obama orders an iced tea from Ria Farmer at Sunrise Coffee Shop during a campaign stop in Henderson Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Linda Kincaid stood next to her seat at the Henderson Convention Center shouting at the top of her lungs like a pep-rally conductor waiting for first lady Michelle Obama to reach the podium.

“Fire it up. Ready to go,” Kincaid said at the event Tuesday.

“Fire it up. Ready to go,” a portion of the 1,000 Obama supporters in attendance responded.

Kincaid has long been a supporter of President Barack Obama. Kincaid canvassed door-to-door for Obama in 2008, has a black notebook with Obama’s autograph and is an organizer with Barack Obama for America and Women For Obama.

All Kincaid wanted to hear was a reminder of the health care values Obama’s campaign cherishes. About three rows behind her, Helen Murphy from Henderson sat silent. She just wanted to hear what Michelle Obama had to say about the presidential campaign.

Like Murphy and Kincaid, nearly everyone in the crowd wanted something, ranging from a discussion on family ideals to a reinforcement of Obama’s political values to words of encouragement, from the first lady’s visit. By the time Mrs. Obama finished her speech, almost all the grass-roots supporters and campaign volunteers in attendance received what they wanted.

“I expected to hear exactly what she said,” said Sue Spencer, who has canvassed and made phone calls on behalf of the Obama campaign. “For her to support her husband, for her to give us the advice we need to win this election and just what it’s like to be a mom.”

Before Mrs. Obama could begin her speech, she was met with a rock star-like cheer from the crowd as “Higher Ground” from Stevie Wonder blared from the speakers. In between cheers, Mrs. Obama addressed the crowd clad in Obama-Biden campaign stickers, pins and shirts.

“I’m thrilled to be here today,” Mrs. Obama said to the crowd, which ratcheted up the cheer volume.

When the crowd calmed, she expressed appreciation to the grass-roots supporters and campaign organizers in attendance.

“I want you to know truly that the grass roots you all are doing to get people focused and fired up, that work is at the core of this campaign,” Mrs. Obama said. “It is truly what is going to make the difference.”

She then touched on some of the actions her husband has taken in office. She spoke about how his first act in office was signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to assure women equal payment for equal work. She talked the president’s support of the Dream Act, a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for hard-working, productive illegal aliens across America.

The first lady’s speech touched on the president’s health care policy, efforts to improve public school systems so that every student receives a solid education and how he’s helped the economy create 4 million jobs in two years. At each talking point, the standing crowd erupted into cheers and shouts of, “Yes” and “Mmmhmm” like a church congregation.

She inspired the crowd with personal stories about her time growing up with a blue-collar father who gave everything he had to make sure his daughter received an education. But Mrs. Obama also kept the crowd in the hot convention center laughing.

“I can go on and on and on, but it is warm in here,” Mrs. Obama said. “I love you way too much to keep you standing up that long.”

After a brief chuckle, she returned to energizing the crowd.

“But it also is important for people to remind folks that all of this and so much more is at stake this November,” Obama said. “It all comes down to an important question, ‘Will we continue to change with the progress we made or will everything we worked for just slip away?’”

When Mrs. Obama left the stage, the crowd cheered and waved its signs, satisfied with the rally speech.

Kincaid beamed as she showed off her black notebook with a Michelle Obama signature just above Barack Obama’s.

A UNLV master’s graduate, Monika Bertaki, finally felt her thesis was completed.

She had spent an entire year writing 138 pages on Michelle Obama for her rhetoric class. Bertaki received an ‘A,’ but she felt the thesis would never be done until she gave it to the first lady.

Like Kincaid, Murphy and many others in attendance, Bertaki got just what she wanted.

“I feel like part of my job is done perhaps," Bertaki said. "Writing the thesis was half the battle, but having her sign that book meant so much to me. I’m pretty lucky to be here at this moment.”

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