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Michelle Obama channels hope, unity in Phoenix campaign event

The First Lady highlighted the differences in candidates while calling Arizona residents to votes in the final 19 days of the election

First lady Michelle Obama speaks to a crowd in the Phoenix Convention Center during a campaign stop for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016.
First lady Michelle Obama speaks to a crowd in the Phoenix Convention Center during a campaign stop for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016.

Michelle Obama rekindled the sentiments of hope and change that once drove her husband to victory Thursday while campaigning in Phoenix for current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Lines stretched around the Phoenix Convention Center hours before the event began. The crowd was met with a rousing call to vote by the First Lady and local party leaders.

Michelle Obama is among a series of high-profile appearances arranged by the Clinton campaign in Arizona this week as it becomes a battleground state in the home stretch of the election. 

Obama highlighted the differences between Clinton and Donald Trump — their visions and outlooks for America.

“One candidate's vision is grounded in hopelessness and despair,” Obama said. “But fortunately there is another candidate in this race … that knows that our country is powerful and vibrant and strong and that each of us is a part of the great American story.”

She highlighted themes of sexual assault and political divisiveness, which she also visited in a speech that went viral last week.

“Since that speech, my office has been flooded with thousands of letters and emails from folks all across the country — women and girls of all ages finding the courage to stand up and say their stories, clearing the cloud of shame that existed for far too long," she said.

She also spoke in support of Clinton’s college tuition policy, which could fully eliminate tuition in up to 80 percent of in-state colleges and help student refinance current debt. 

“If you are a young person worrying about affording college, Hillary has a plan to make your college tuition free and to help folks drowning in college debt,” she said.

She was interrupted by a supporter screaming, “I love you,” and stopped to point and shout back “I love you, too.” This moment drew huge applause from the crowd.

Thomas Haver, a computer information systems major at ASU, was among one of the thousands who waited in line to see the First Lady speak. He said the crowd highlighted the diversity of the Democratic party.

“I just noticed how diverse the crowd was; men and women, young and old and lots of different races,” Haver said. “I thought that was really powerful.”

While Arizona has historically been red, Clinton holds a slight lead in the state, according to the most recent Cronkite/Arizona Republic/Morrison poll.

Read more: Will Arizona become a swing state? Hillary Clinton officially leads Donald Trump in a new Arizona poll

Haver said it is important for Democrats to fight for the victory in Arizona.

“I do think it’s worth the push into Arizona,” he said. “If Arizona does flip, I think it will guarantee she wins the White House.”

Tyler Bowyer, the chairman of the Maricopa Republican Party and a former ASU student regent for the Arizona Board of Regents, said the increasing Democratic push in Arizona will be futile.

“I think it’s a huge stretch,” Bowyer said. “It’s pretty odd to see them putting resources into a state that they are never going to win.”

He also said that the Republican party has planned an event next Thursday to counter this week’s series of high-profile Democratic appearances for the Clinton campaign.

“We have a huge event planned at ASU next week in response to the Clinton Campaign’s rallies,” he said. "You could even call it 'yuge.'"

Bowyer said more information on the event would come out shortly.

Obama ended her speech with a call to the crowd to get out the vote and spend the last 19 days campaigning for Clinton.

“We can not let anyone take away our hope," she said. "We can not let anyone silence our vote."

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