Michelle Obama Dazzles in Sarasota

By Megan McDonald January 27, 2012

Michelle Obama in Sarasota on Thursday.

I wanted to  offer  Michelle Obama some words of support  in Sarasota on Thursday. But it was she who ended up giving me an encouraging  pat on the back.

“We admire and respect the work you do, and the example you set,” I told the First Lady as I posed for a picture with her in Caren and Dick Lobo’s bayfront home. “So remember that when the crazies get you down.”

“Thank you, but I don’t let any of that get me down, ” Mrs. Obama said, flashing a magnetic smile as a photographer clicked away. Later, during a 20-minute speech before 300 in the Lobos’ back yard, Mrs. Obama was a dynamic and forceful  advocate for her husband’s policies and his re-election bid.

“You’re here because you know that we stand at a fundamental crossroads for our country,” she told the enthusiastic crowd. “You know that in less than a year, we’re going to make a choice that will impact our lives for decades to come.

“And make no mistake about it, whether it’s healthcare, the economy,  whether it’s education or foreign policy, the choice we make will determine nothing less than who we are as a county–but more importantly, who we want to be. Who are we? Will we be a country where opportunity is limited to just the few at the top? Or will we be a place where, if you work hard, you can get ahead, no matter who you are or how you started out?”

Wearing a sleeveless black dress with silver accents, Mrs. Obama spoke under a tent and against a backdrop of U.S and Florida flags.  Her visit lasted about an hour, and encompassed the photo sessions and a private reception with some of the higher-end donors (donation levels started at $500).

Security was tight but relatively unobtrusive. Off-duty policeman patrolled Bay Shore Road in front of the house, and all visitors were searched with electronic wands before entering.  As the luncheon guests enjoyed roast beef sliders and salmon satay,  several police boats bobbed in the bay.

Referring to Barack Obama at various times in her remarks as “your president”  “my husband” and  “Barack,” Mrs. Obama she spoke extensively about his accomplishments, from bringing troops home from Iraq and abolishing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” to pushing for equal pay for women and passing healthcare reform.

“But now, there are folks out there actually talking about repealing that reform,” she said, talking about the health care legislation. “Are we going to stand by and let that happen?”

“No,” shouted the crowd.

“Are we going to back to the days when insurance companies could deny our children coverage because they have a pre-existing condition like cancer or diabetes or even asthma?”

“No,” audience members yelled, with even more passion this time.

As the cheers continued, she told the crowd  it was “time for us to get moving. It is time for us to get it together, to get to work. Stop complaining and worrying. We need to stand up and work.”

And then, referring to the “I’m In” slogan printed on questionnaires that each audience member received, she asked repeatedly, “Are you in? Are you in?”

She beamed and applauded as audience members shouted, “Yes.”

“Because I am so in,” she said. “I am so very in.”

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