First lady steps into campaign spotlight

First lady Michelle Obama stepped into a campaign role Thursday for the first time since President Obama declared his reelection campaign, rallying Democratic women in Washington.

The first lady flexed some political muscle at a late morning event at the Women’s Leadership Forum National Issues Conference, where about 550 attendees donated sums ranging from $250 to $35,8000 to the president's reelection campaign.

"Folks, now more than ever before, we need to finish what we’ve started and we need your help," the first lady said. "We need all of you to be with us for the next phase of our journey."

The first lady has had a more limited role on the campaign trail in 2008 and 2010, though she enjoys higher approval ratings than her husband and is particularly popular with women voters. She's vowed to take an active role in the reelection, though, and her event appears to be the first campaign-related function she's spearheaded since the president filed for reelection in early April.

In her speech, Michelle Obama talked about her initial reluctance to campaigning and her gradual, growing comfort with it as the campaign wore on. When it comes to 2012, though, she said she's "in."

"Are you in?" she asked cheering supporters. "Because I’m in. And I hope that all of you are fired up. I hope that all of you are ready to go. And I look forward to getting back out there with all of you in the months and years ahead."

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