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Michelle Obama Pumps Up Crowd at University of Northern Iowa

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Michelle Obama's address Friday brought rave reviews, at least from those inside the McLeod Center at the University of Northern Iowa.

"I loved the way she specifically talked to college students," said DeVonne Bates, a UNI Panther from Georgia. Her friend, Deidre Tolbert, also a student from Georgia, appreciated the first lady's tone and what Tolbert considered a winning message. "I liked that it was all positive," Tolbert said.

Obama charmed the friendly crowd early, noting it was good to be back with "her Panthers." She then laid out the case for re-electing her husband, Barack, noting what she described as the president's courage and convictions. "We have seen his values at work," Michelle Obama said.

The First Lady shared anecdotes from her own life that resonated with students in the crowd. Michelle Obama said in the early days of her marriage, their couple's payments for college loans exceeded their mortgage at the time. "This is not hypothetical. We've been there," she said.

Michelle Obama also made a case for accomplishments under her husband's administration, including job creation and ending the war in Iraq. She suggested those in the crowd pass those messages, and others, along to undecided voters. "Tell them how we worked together to finally take out Osama bin Laden," Michelle Obama added.

The president, though, acknowledges more work at home remains, she said. "My husband is nowhere near satisfied," Michelle Obama said.

Tiffany Dow of Mason City, a student, got close to the stage for the First Lady's address. Her mother, Jody, opted for a seat in the arena. "It's nice to see the first lady, of course, but I'm a Barack supporter," Dow said.

She, too, thought the speech was pitch-perfect. "The key points that she addressed ... hit home," Dow said.

Fans of the president and his wife -- and a few less enchanted -- turned out early Friday ahead of the First Lady's appearance.

Michelle Obama spoke at about 12:50 p.m. in the McLeod Center on campus at the University of Northern Iowa. Hundreds, though, began filing into the arena about 9:30 a.m.

"I love her. She's a bright, intelligent woman and an excellent first lady. And I'm here to support her and her husband," JoAnn Anderson-Wright of Cedar Falls said. She got tickets early and wound up in the front row of seats in McLeod with her grandson, Brody Creighton, and husband, Bob. "I didn't think that we'd get this close. It's great," Anderson-Wright said.

At least a few people in the audience have already voted. Carolyn Metz, a UNI student from Ames, sent in her absentee ballot recently. She still wanted to see Mrs. Obama, however.

Emily Walton, a UNI student from Marengo, was also listening. She has not, however, decided who will get her vote. Walton will graduate in the spring and is somewhat concerned about the U.S. economy. She said she would be listening for "how her husband is going to try to fix it."

That topic is also on the mind's of a few dozen Romney enthusiasts gathered outside the arena. "I've watched the skyrocketing cost of gas and of course the prices at the grocery store are rising," Laurie Welch of Waverly said.

Victoria Hurst, a UNI student and chair of the UNI College Republicans, also took a stand outside Mcleod. The stagnant economy was also on her mind. "It's very broken when half of college graduates are unemployed," Hurst said.

"We were promised hope and change four years ago. And we don't have hope and we don't have change in our pockets," she added.

Jim Skaine of Cedar Falls, a retired UNI instructor, was headed into the arena when Carmen Halverson, also of Cedar Falls, offered him a Romney lapel sticker. Skaine, instead, took the opportunity exchange a few views on Romney and GOP policies.

"He's part of what is wrong with Iowa right now," Skaine said.

He later added President Obama and Michelle are visiting the state frequently for a reason. "The campaign knows it's the only way he can get to the public," Skaine said.

A "corrupt news media" have otherwise stymied the president's attempt to communicate his ideas, Skaine added.

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