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First Lady connects during Memphis visit


That's the verb that resonated from Michelle Obama as the first lady shared elements of her upbringing with a Memphis-area crowd at the Canon Center on Wednesday afternoon. The reference was to her parents and the posture they took to make sure she and her brother had what each needed to succeed.

"They held us to the same high standard of excellence because they wanted us both to have the same kind of education they could only dream of," she said.

Speaking at an Obama for America fundraising reception, Mrs. Obama pitched the need to move forward focused on being the type of positive influences on young people that her parents were to her.

Standing at a podium, Mrs. Obama was framed by a backdrop that read, in part, "FORWARD. BARACKOBAMA.COM:"

Picture-1aHer parents could not afford to contribute much to her college education, with much of the support coming from college student loans and grants, she said.

"How many people can relate to that?"

There were an ample number in the crowd who could relate, raising their hands and shouting out their recognition of the point she was making.

She continued with her story, saying her father was proud to send his kids to college. "Every semester he was determined to pay his share of that bill on time," she said. "He was so proud to be sending his kids to college."

Picture-5aWith her father determined to lessen the financial burden on his son and daughter, neither she nor her brother ever "missed a registration deadline because his check was late," she said.

The reception was open to the public, with ticket prices ranging from $500 for individual tickets to $5,000 for two reception tickets and photo with the first lady. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Obama Victory Fund 2012, a joint fundraising committee authorized by Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Parties in various states supporting President Obama's 2012 campaign.

Billed as a fundraising event, it clearly had the feel of a rally at various points. Mrs. Obama arrived after 1 p.m., moving to a room to take photos with patrons who eagerly lined up for the opportunity.

Then she moved to the hall where she spoke after being introduced warmly by an armed-forces family member. Much of her time as first lady has involved working with veterans, their families and support groups.

Her appearance came on the day her husband basked in the glow of the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision upholding the legality of the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare." She made reference to the decision, highlighting elements of the act and couching it in an overarching theme – the need to have time to move forward and finish up things underway and that need to be completed.

Her talk completed, Mrs. Obama moved to engage the crowd. Many standing in the front of the room got a chance to shake hands with her and snap pictures. It most certainly was a pro-first-lady setting.

Near the Canon Center, a downtown worker who did not make it inside volunteered that he gladly would have paid $5000 to see her, if he'd had it.

"She's one lovely woman," the man said. "I would just be glad to stand next to her."

It was one of two Tennessee stops from Mrs. Obama on Wednesday, with the other engagement an address before about delegates at the African Methodist Episcopal Church's conference in Nashville.

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