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Michelle Obama mentions ‘choice,’ crowd cheers

Michelle Obama mentions ‘choice,’ crowd cheers
First Lady Michelle Obama gets serious with the crowd during an appearance in Florida.
(Robert Duyos / Sun-Sentinel)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- First Lady Michelle Obama generally pulls her punches when she stumps for her husband – keeping the tone upbeat and the political attacks on her husband’s GOP rival veiled. But even an indirect reference to abortion rights felt like a direct hit during a campaign rally  Wednesday.

As the Republicans try to contain the fallout of Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment, Obama  had only to mention the word “choice” and the crowd went crazy.

“Make sure that you tell people that your president believes that women should be able to make our own choices about our healthcare,” Obama said, getting drowned out by the eruption of cheers.

Democrats have pounced on Akin’s remarks and welcomed the opportunity to inject abortion into a political campaign that may hinge on the votes of independent female voters.

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Like her husband, Michelle Obama never mentioned the word abortion in her 30-minute stump speech, a riff that relies heavily on her own working-class upbringing to make the case that President Obama understands and will “have the backs” of the middle class.

As president, “all you have to guide you are your life experiences. All you have to guide you is your values and … who you are and what you stand for,” Obama said, underscoring a key theme in the campaign – that Republican Mitt Romney’s well-heeled background keeps him out of touch with ordinary people.

But it was the reference to women’s healthcare that won the loudest cheers among a crowd of Democratic loyalists. The speech outlines President Obama’s record on women’s health issues and highlights parts of the healthcare plan targeted at women. The first lady noted Obama’s nomination of two “brilliant” women to the Supreme Court, before telling the crowd to spread the word about his support for abortion rights.

“You gotta tell ’em,” she said.

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Kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com


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