MIAMI (CBSMiami) – First Lady Michelle Obama voted early, and Thursday she encouraged Floridians from Jacksonville to Miami to do the same.
Mrs. Obama campaigned on her husband’s behalf in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, ahead of her final Florida stop at the James L. Knight Center in Downtown Miami.
She spoke to a crowd of more than 4,000 people in South Florida to promote her husband’s plan of strengthening and supporting the middle class to build a better America.
“When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and you finally walk through that doorway of opportunity, you don’t slam it shut behind you,” Mrs. Obama said. “No. You reach back and give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”
The First Lady had some help of her own in Downtown Miami.
Singer Marc Anthony, actress Gabrielle Union, and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz each served as opening acts and stressed the importance of voting early.
Josefina Batista, a mother of two adult daughters from Miami, introduced Mrs. Obama.
She said she was nervous but honored.
“You can’t imagine the wonderful feeling to have Michelle Obama put her arms around me,” Batista told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana after the event.
The crowd was passionate and vocal.
One woman got a little too rowdy and had to be escorted out.
But those who were there from start to finish heard Michelle Obama talk about women’s healthcare and student loans.
“It got us energized! I wished she would have talked more about homeowners. Because Obama’s done a lot for homeowners,” Marva Lightbourne said.
Lightbourne watched from the seats in the back of the auditorium, but a few lucky guests had much better seats.
“I was one of the people on stage right behind her,” Alain Bengochea said. “It was a great opportunity to just support the Democrats.”
The First Lady’s visit came on the heels of Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s stop at the University of Miami Wednesday.
With the candidates in a virtual dead heat in Florida, both camps realize the importance of the state’s 29 electoral votes.
“I think we’re going to win Florida,” Romney said at the Bank United Center Wednesday.
A day later, the First Lady expressed the same level of confidence.
“When we win this state we will be well on our way to putting Barack Obama in the white house for 4 more years!”
President Obama will visit South Florida this weekend. He’ll speak at a grassroots event at McArthur High School in Hollywood Sunday afternoon.