Michelle Obama swings through Philly suburbs

March 13, 2008 5:45:40 PM PDT
Michelle Obama made her first campaign trip to Pennsylvania on Thursday, stumping in the Philadelphia suburbs as her husband remained locked in a fierce battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama told hundreds of supporters at Villanova University's field house that her husband, Sen. Barack Obama, has met every campaign challenge thrown at him. Some doubted that the junior Illinois senator could raise enough money to stay in the race, build a national organization or win the Iowa caucuses, his 44-year-old wife said, but he accomplished all three and more.

"He has won in big states, small states, red states, blue states, in swing states," Michelle Obama said.

She also talked about the couple's working-class roots, which resonated with supporter Shanika Hill, who came to the rally with her mother and 6-year-old son.

"It just made it feel very personal to me," said Hill, 31, of Bryn Mawr. "(The country) needs someone in the White House who has been a normal person."

Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are expected to fight to the end in vote-rich Pennsylvania, where 158 delegates are at stake in the April 22 primary.

Before Villanova, Michelle Obama led a rally at Abington Senior High School, where she received a warm welcome from 1,100 people in the auditorium. Another 500 filled two overflow rooms.

Her first stop of the day was in Haverford Township, where the potential first lady read Dr. Seuss to preschoolers at a church day care center and talked about health care, education and other issues with five of their mothers.

Though she is on leave from her job as a hospital executive, the energetic campaigner said during the round-table discussion that she remains a working mother. The Obamas have two daughters, ages 9 and 6.

"I am struggling every day to try to keep it together," Michelle Obama said at St. George's Episcopal Church. "I grew up thinking you could have it all. ... I'm still trying to figure out how do you do it."

Anne Londergan, a nurse-midwife and mother who attended the discussion, expressed concerns about No Child Left Behind, the crux of President Bush's education policy.

"We're spending a lot of money on testing," Londergan said. "I think it takes away creativity. We're not addressing, 'Why is this school not performing?"'

Obama agreed, saying her husband's billion-dollar education plan targets learning from birth to beyond college.