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First lady, Pelosi rally party as election nears

Michelle Obama is urging Americans to vote with an eye toward the future and with the energy of the past — two years ago, to be exact.
Michelle Obama, Nanci Pelosi
First lady Michelle Obama, left, speaks as House Speaker Nanci Pelosi, right, listens at a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in San Francisco on Monday.Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Michelle Obama is urging Americans to vote with an eye toward the future and with the energy of the past — two years ago, to be exact.

At an appearance alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a San Francisco fundraiser on Monday, the first lady warned that Republicans were putting up a strong fight to recapture the congressional majority on Nov. 2. It's up to Democrats to prevent that from happening, she said.

"This is too close, this will be on us," she told the crowd of 700 party donors at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's fundraiser. "This election, it's about all we have left to do in the months and years ahead."

Obama asked the predominantly female audience to recall the excitement and optimism they felt coming in to the 2008 presidential election, and to try to muster that same enthusiasm this year.

"That energy we had two years ago, that's what we need and nothing short of that," she said.

Fellow speaker Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, echoed that sentiment, urging Democrats to "make 10 more calls, send 10 more e-mails, bring 10 more people to the polls."

Pelosi appears, keeps low profile
Joining Obama and Biden to rally the party's base was Pelosi, who received a warm welcome but largely took a back seat at the event. She reportedly made impromptu remarks to the crowd before the evening program officially began, and her subsequent comments were limited to praising the two women with whom she shared the stage.

Her appearance on her home turf was one of several tightly controlled public events she has attended during the fall election season. She has, instead, focused on raising money for Democratic candidates this cycle.

Her relatively low profile reflects the success Republicans have had in making her the face of what they say is the problem — the Democrats' control of the presidency and Congress, and their agenda of health care and financial overhauls.

It is not clear how long Pelosi would lead her party and remain in Congress, whatever the outcome next Tuesday. Democratic aides say she would seek the speakership if her party defies most predictions and hangs on to the House majority by a few seats. Lose the House, and it's unclear whether Pelosi would want or be elected to continue to lead her party in that chamber.

All three high-profile Democrats on Monday acknowledged that times are tough for many Americans, despite what they described as major progress over the past two years.

"For a lot of folks, change hasn't come fast enough," Obama said. "The truth is, it's going to take a lot longer to dig us out of this hole than any of us would like."

However, she said, "we've come much too far to turn back now."

$500-a-plate fundraiser for DCCC
The $500-a-plate fundraiser was expected to raise about $1.6 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's final campaign efforts.

The committee has been active throughout California this year in support of a half-dozen promising congressional challengers and potentially vulnerable incumbents — an unusually high number for the heavily gerrymandered state.

Obama's swing through California will continue through Wednesday. Her scheduled appearances include two Los Angeles events with Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is facing a tough re-election challenge from Republican Carly Fiorina.

The first lady's trip comes on the heels of a two-day visit last week by President Barack Obama, as well as a recent string of appearances by former President Bill Clinton.