First Lady speaks to Wisconsin students in conference call

Cassidy Wilson

Monday, Jan. 30 at 4:30 p.m., a group of Lawrence students gathered in the Runkel Room on the fourth floor of the Warch Campus Center to listen in on a personal message from First Lady Michelle Obama.

In an effort to kick-start Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Wisconsin, the First Lady made a conference call to college students across the state. After speaking for several minutes about the importance of the election and the role of students in bringing Barack Obama back to the White House for a second term, Michelle Obama took a few questions from students across Wisconsin.

This year, the Obama campaign is specifically targeting young voters with a campaign bearing the slogan “Greater Together.” The campaign’s online headquarters can be accessed at

When asked what President Obama has been doing for young people since taking office, Michelle Obama mentioned the extension of Pell Grants as well as recent legislation that allows young adults to stay covered under their parents’ insurance until age 26.

One student from the University of Wisconsin-Madison asked how college students can get involved in the campaign. Michelle Obama recommended that those interested in taking action should participate with the activities of their on-campus political groups or other local organizations. She also stressed the often underestimated importance of conversations between individuals. The conference call itself represented the Obamas’ intention to engage in conversation with American citizens.

Sophomore Polly Dalton, a member of the LU College Democrats who coordinated the conference call event, also emphasized the usefulness of open, one-on-one political conversations. She said, “The importance of listening to people’s concerns, worries and ideas cannot be overemphasized. The First Lady said that conversations [she] and Barack have with people drive them in their work and serve as a reminder of the impacts of what they are doing.”

Michelle Obama also placed much emphasis on the importance of voting. With new voter requirements, it has become more difficult for students who live out-of-state to vote in Wisconsin elections. It is crucial for students to have the opportunity to register to vote and obtain the necessary Wisconsin voter ID.

Dalton concluded, “Voting is one of the easiest and most important things you can do as a citizen to have an impact on the work of our government.”