Huffpost Black Voices
Janell Ross Headshot
Gene Demby Headshot

Michelle Obama's DNC Message To Democrats Of Color: Roll Up Your Sleeves

Posted: Updated:
FLOTUS DNC
An attendee records Michelle Obama during her address to African-American delegates at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 5. | Gene Demby/Huffington Post

Charlotte, N.C. -- Fresh off her barn-burner convention speech Tuesday night, First Lady Michelle Obama made an appeal Wednesday to the varied constituent groups that make up the Democratic base, urging them to join get out the vote efforts.

"We're going to have to roll up our sleeves!" Obama said, to amens from African-American delegates at the Charlotte Convention Center. "Roll 'em up! Get it done! Sixty-two days is nothing!"

The first lady touched on themes of economic empowerment and opportunity, and like President Obama and Vice President Biden, cast the 2012 election as a contrast between wildly different visions for the country's future.

"The thing I want to emphasize, and make no mistake about it, is that this election is about even more than the issues at stake right now," she said. "Because this election, more than any other in history, is about how we want our democracy to function for decades to come."

"We need to step back and ask ourselves: Do we want to get a few individuals a far bigger say in our democracy than anyone else?" she continued. "Do we want our elections about who buys the most ads on TV?"

After shaking hands and snapping photos with people who attended the black caucus gathering, Obama went to the next ballroom to deliver a similar stump speech, echoing the same themes of economic opportunity and democratic participation to a Hispanic caucus session.

"My husband has been working hard to build a ladder to the middle class," she said, "so that we can all go as far as our talents and our hard work can take us."

When she pivoted to get-out-the-vote efforts, members of the audience interjected their own ideas.

"We're going to turn Ohio blue," said one man on the far right side of the room.

"Make it blue," Obama responded, raising a clenched fist just above the podium.

The enthusiasm among Wednesday morning's audiences countered a series of polls that have found Latino voters overwhelmingly inclined to back President Obama in November but with far less enthusiasm than they had in 2008. Enthusiasm is viewed by political analysts as a measure of the likelihood that a voter will actually show up and vote on Election Day.

Michelle Obama has enjoyed consistently high approval ratings throughout her husband's presidency. A Gallup poll from May put her approval at 66 percent, considerably higher than her husband's approval rating of 45 percent, according to Rasmussen Reports. Those strong numbers, political analysts say, could help her make the case to swing voters that President Obama cannot.

And turnout will be the key to an election victory, Michelle Obama told the Hispanic Caucus.

In 2008, the Obama campaign carried North Carolina by 14,000 votes. That figure amounts to just five votes in each of the state's precincts, she said.

North Carolina ranked among the long-red states that the Obama campaign claimed in 2008. This year, the state's Latinos for Obama operation has registered more Latino voters in North Carolina than any other state, campaign officials told The Huffington Post Tuesday, although they could not provide specific numbers.

An Urban League report from June found that if African-American turnout fell below its historic 2008 numbers, President Obama would face a struggle to win the Tarheel State in November.

North Carolina has seen the number of registered Latino voters double over the last four years, likely cementing North Carolina's status as a swing state, according to a study released in May by the Institute for Southern Studies.

In May, North Carolina's voter rolls included 91,554 Latino voters. That's more than twice the 44,719 Latino voters registered in the state in May 2008.

Carlos Casallas, the coordinator of special projects for the North Carolina state election board, told Spanish-language wire service Agencia Efe at the time, "This is a significant achievement that is due to several factors: Hispanics from other states are moving to the area and registering to vote, registration campaigns in the community, naturalizations of resident immigrants and 18-year-old youths are more excited about participating in the electoral process."

Around the Web

Michelle Obama's DNC speech a 'devastating attack' on Romney or 'untrue and ...

Did YouTube Really Block Michelle Obama's DNC Speech for Copyright ...

DNC speech breakdown: Michelle Obama and Julian Castro

Michelle Obama, Julian Castro, Rahm Emanuel: DNC highlights

 
  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
Click for Full Results