Thousands of Barack Obama supporters and others, many of who were college students, gathered at the quadrangle at Florida A&M University for a voter registration rally co-hosted by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden on Saturday.
Michelle Obama is the wife of Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, and Biden is the wife of his running-mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.
With the Oct. 6 voter registration deadline nine days away, the speakers encouraged students to make sure they can vote, especially those students who are registered elsewhere, urging them to re-register in Leon County.
The city of Tallahassee has more college students than any other city in Florida. The rally drew hundreds of students from nearby Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College.
James S. Rickards High School Marching Raider Band opened the event while spectatorswaited to hear from the Democratic candidates' wives.
The crowd waited until Jill Biden was introduced to begin the rally. Biden spoke about her experience as a teacher at a community college and how the economy is affecting her students every day.
"I have been a teacher for 27 years and now teach at the community college," said Biden. "Everyday in my classroom I see how the last eight years has affected my students. High gas prices keep them from coming back to school when they need extra help. Some can't afford the books they need. Too many times my students have had to quit because they cannot afford the tuition."
This cannot continue for another four years, Biden said. She spoke about the next team that she hopes will be seen in the White House.
Biden introduced Michelle Obama, describing the Obama's marriage as one to emulate.
"They have a loving marriage based on mutual respect," said Biden.
The crowd cheered as Obama came out to speak. She said that she had been looking forward to this rally for a very long time.
"This is an honor for me to be here and see so many of you," said Obama. "This is phenomenal. Look around; Let's look around for a moment and feel this energy."
She thanked Jill Biden and lauded the Biden family as good people with good values, intelligence and humor.
Obama spoke about the importance of voting in this election and how this election is different from any other election. She also spoke about the change developing in America toward this election.
"While I would like to give all the credit to my husband, who I love so much, let me tell you that this has a little bit to do with him, but it has everything to do with all of you," said Obama. "We are here because of all of you."
Michelle Obama spoke about the election issues, including whether people will be able to face the economic crisis, problems with a "broken" health care system, affordable education, high fuel and food costs and the cost and ending of the war in Iraq.
"Don't we want a president in the White House that understands what it means to carry debt?" Obama asked. "Barack gets it."
She said her husband understands that the American people don't want the government to solve all their problems; they just want it to care.
"Barack understands that the American people aren't asking for much," said Obama. "They don't want Washington to solve all their problems, they just want Washington to understand that the problems that they are facing are real."
She ended her speech by letting everyone know that they have a choice and that there is only really one team. She reminded everyone that there were only 39 days before Election Day, and se appealed to the 600,000 black Americans who are still not registered to vote.
"We have an opportunity right here and right now to change the course of this country," said Obama.
After the event, many students stayed behind to register to vote with Students for Obama volunteers and took pictures with a life size picture of "Vote for Change" that stood against a burning torch.
Liovani Nazario, a graduate student from FSU and a coordinator of volunteers for not-for-profit organization 211 Big Bend, said he supports all the ideals that Barack Obama represents.
"As a minority I feel like he will represent us better in the White House," said Nazario. "I think that them taking the time to come out to FAMU was amazing, that they thought of Tallahassee as an important place for them to comeand speak to us."