As always, the campaign used the Florida rallies to organize its ground campaign. People who picked up tickets provided their contact information so the campaign can keep in touch and recruit them as volunteers. At the events, people were greeted with voter registration forms.
“Barack has said this election will be even closer than the last one. So he needs your help. He needs you to keep doing what you’re doing. He needs you to keep making those calls, doing that hard work knocking on those doors — treacherous work, right? Tiring work,” the first lady said, predicting the race will be closer than four years ago. “He needs you to keep registering those voters. You know, the ones that aren’t registered — you’ve got to get them and shake them. Find them, get them registered.”
Her South Florida appearance caused a dust-up Monday when two Miami-Dade School Board members decried the use of a school facility for a purely political event. One board member, Renier Diaz de la Portilla, who is running for state House as a Republican, called for the event to be canceled.
The Miami-Dade school district allows facilities to be leased to private groups. School is out for the summer.
Volunteers brushed off the criticism.
“It’s being paid for by the campaign. It’s a public facility that they can rent just as easily as she can,” said Esther Carey, a volunteer at the Obama campaign outpost in Miami Gardens. “It’s not private. It’s public. You can pay a fee and rent it. They can do it, too.”
“They were just looking for some way to make noise and be negative,” she added.
The first lady also made a surprise visit to the Blanchard Park YMCA in Orlando, joining elementary school children exercising.
The children were not given advance warnings but many of them recognized Obama immediately when she walked in unannounced.
One girl slapped hands to her face and quietly repeated, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”
In Miami, she also met with Hispanic mom bloggers in an event streamed live on the Internet.