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Michelle Obama Appears With Hillary Clinton In North Carolina


First lady Michelle Obama has emerged as Hillary Clinton's most powerful advocate in the campaign. She has even given the Clinton campaign a lasting slogan.


MICHELLE OBAMA: Make no mistake about it, casting our vote is the ultimate way we go high when they go low. Voting is our high.

SIEGEL: The first lady was in Winston-Salem, N.C., today, where she campaigned with Hillary Clinton for the first time this year. NPR's Asma Khalid is there now. And, Asma, what was the scene like today?

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Well, Robert, this was a huge event for Hillary Clinton, just the sheer size of it. There were an estimated 11,000 people in a basketball arena on the campus of Wake Forest University, and the crowd was really pumped. I mean, they were, you know, doing the wave throughout the stadium, even before Clinton and Mrs. Obama got on stage.

I met one woman who told me that this is her first political rally she's ever come to. She got in line at 7:30 in the morning. And when Michelle Obama took the stage, really, she was trying to humanize Hillary Clinton in a way that sometimes, you know, Clinton herself has struggled to do. And there was this one moment toward the end that really resonated with the crowd when Mrs. Obama made a nod to the historic nature of Clinton's candidacy.


OBAMA: A country where the daughter of an orphan can break that highest and hardest glass-ceiling and become president of the United States...


OBAMA: ...That is who we are. That is what's possible here in America, but only, only when we come together.

SIEGEL: Now, Michelle Obama has campaigned several times before, but not with Hillary Clinton before. What's the first lady bringing to the stage?

KHALID: Well, she was extraordinarily positive. And I think you heard that right there in the clip trying to remind voters, you know, that this election doesn't need to be negative. And she was trying to encourage them. And she really is arguably the most effective surrogate that Hillary Clinton has. When you look at polling, the first lady is consistently hugely popular among Democrats. And part of that is that she has street cred. You know, she's seen as extremely genuine. And Hillary Clinton has sometimes struggled with issues of trust, so the first lady was trying to lend some of her own credibility to Hillary Clinton, and you saw that today. She talked about how they are legitimate friends, and you heard Michelle Obama refer to Hillary Clinton as my girl.

SIEGEL: Well, looking at the next week and a half, what can you say about how the Clinton campaign is hoping that Michelle Obama can boost Hillary Clinton's chances?

KHALID: Well, I would say that I don't think that it's any accident that they chose specifically to come here to North Carolina to do this, and that's possibly - and that's arguably, I would say, that North Carolina is a state where, you know, the first lady is extraordinarily popular. But these are also demographics here in the state that are key for Hillary Clinton, you know, African-Americans and women.

And Michelle Obama was here to focus on those two groups. The Clinton campaign knows that if they are able to win North Carolina, they will effectively block Donald Trump from the White House. And Michelle Obama was here today to focus on turnout. She made it very clear to the crowd that if Hillary Clinton loses, it's on them.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Asma Khalid in Winston-Salem, N.C. Asma, thanks.

KHALID: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.