First Lady Michelle Obama addresses a crowd of more than 400 people at VFW Post 1503 in Dale City, telling supporters her husband, President Barack Obama, needs four more years to finish the work he’s started. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com))

By KJ MUSHUNG

DALE CITY, Va. – The parking lot of the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars building on Minnieville Road was full hours before First Lady Michelle Obama was slated to appear. So was the parking lot of the Staples Mill Shopping Center down the street. Nearby neighborhood roads were lined with cars as people walked some distance to see the first lady speak on behalf of her husband’s campaign.

According to Prince William County Fire Marshal Matt Greenfield, 475 people filled the small VFW building for the event. Because the facility could only hold a limited number of people, many there were volunteers for the Barack Obama reelection campaign. So the first lady’s message wasn’t so much “vote for Obama,” nor was the visit about raising funds from the audience. Instead, it was more of an urging to register voters, to get friends, family and neighbors involved in the campaign and to tell others about Obama’s “vision.”

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Obama told the crowd that the president needed four more years to finish the work he started and to achieve some of the goals that he had not yet accomplished, such as equal pay for women. She listed a few of the president’s accomplishments so far, like helping the auto industry get back on its feet, the benefits of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, the return of troops from Iraq and the elimination of Osama Bin Laden.

“Because of [health care] reform, insurance companies will have to cover preventative care,” she told the crowd, throwing in other details, for instance that senior citizens on average can save about $600 a year on their prescriptions because of the reform.

Obama reminded the audience that one of the first bills her husband signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. “Women’s success in this economy is the key to families’ success.”

A follow-up to that law, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is supported by the president, has been blocked by senate Republicans.

The first lady said all of the accomplishments her husband has achieved so far are on the line with this election. “We cannot afford to turn back now. We have to keep moving forward.”

She said that this election could be a close one and may come down to only a few thousand votes. (The Bush-Gore race of 2000 may have come to mind for a few people listening.)

Kristine Hatton, a county resident and student at Northern Virginia Community College, said what resonated with her was Michelle Obama’s remarks about women getting equal pay.

Gail McDonald traveled from Loudoun County to be present. She’s the Ashburn team leader of Loudoun County’s Obama reelection campaign. For her, the first lady’s remarks about healthcare resonated the most.

“I have a son who has diabetes,” she said. Not restricting her son’s health care options because of this pre-existing condition is of key importance to her.

 Michael Futrell, co-chair of the Young Democrats of Prince William County, said: “People need to realize you can’t look at this as a snapshot, you’ve got to look at this as a motion picture. You’ve got to make sure you see the whole thing. And when [Michelle Obama noted] everything [Barack Obama] was able to accomplish… it’s astounding. It reminded us of what we need to be able to do to help him. We need to make sure we don’t repeat [the past] where we got him elected but we didn’t give him any assistance or any help.”

“The thing that really jumped out to me was, not just let’s make sure we get him elected, but the importance of getting Tim Kaine and getting Gerry Connolly elected,” Futrell added.