On the eve of the election, first lady Michelle Obama on Monday called U.S. Sen. Harry Reid a champion for the state of Nevada and people who are suffering under a dismal economy and urged supporters at a rally to re-elect him so Democrats can finish what they started when President Barack Obama won office two years ago.
"Our campaign was never just about putting one man in the White House," Obama said at Canyon Springs High School. "It was about building a movement for change."
The crowd of about 1,000 people inside the gym erupted in cheers as Reid sat beside the first lady on a stage set up in the school gym.
The first lady’s visit to Las Vegas is a sign of how worried the Democrats are that the Senate majority leader could lose to his GOP challenger Sharron Angle, a Tea Party-backed conservative who is edging him out in several polls ahead of Tuesday’s mid-term election.
The Democrats turned out more than 7,000 more voters during the two-week early voting period in Nevada that ended on Friday. But Republicans had a higher percentage turnout rate by several points and most analysts expect the GOP enthusiasm to carry over into Election Day. As well, Angle leads Reid among swing independent voters who make up 15 percent of the Nevada electorate and could decide the outcome of the most closely watched Senate race in the country.
A majority of Nevadans aren’t happy with the new health care law Obama and Reid passed or with the record 14.4 percent unemployment rate in the state, but the first lady said that things would get better if voters stick with the Democrats and give Obama and Reid a chance to lead an economic recovery.
"My husband, he can’t do this alone. He needs leaders like Harry Reid," Obama said. "And he needs folks like you to make that happen."
Reid introduced the first lady as "the closer," suggesting she could make a difference in firing up Democrats who overwhelmingly backed Obama in Nevada in 2008. In his short speech, the former high school boxer seeking his fifth Senate term said he wasn’t ready to retire.
"You know I really have fought my whole life," he said. "I’ve fought for Nevada my whole life. But you know, I’m not finished fighting."
Monday’s visit was the first lady’s second one to Las Vegas for Reid and follows three visits to the city by the president to support Reid in his tough re-election fight.
Angle was spending the day in Northern Nevada’s Washoe County, walking precincts and talking to voters by phone in a final push for support.
At her last public campaign rally Friday night with Arizona Sen. John McCain, Angle predicted that she and other Republicans would deliver "shock and awe in Washington" after Election Day, although over the weekend she also professed herself cautiously optimistic about her chances of winning.
"We’re going to have a teachable moment," Angle said, mocking a favorite Obama phrase.Michelle Obama stumps for Sen. Harry Reid