First lady Michelle Obama stopped by New Haven Thursday in a final push to rally support for Gov. Dannel Malloy.
“You know who Dan stands for. You know who your governor fights for. He fights for you. He fights for your families,” Obama told the raucous crowd of nearly 2,000, citing increasing high school graduation rates, a higher minimum wage and tough new gun laws as some of Malloy’s successes as governor.
Malloy remains in a dead heat with Republican challenger Tom Foley, a Greenwich Republican and former Ambassador to Ireland who Malloy defeated in the 2010 governor’s race. Malloy’s campaign is relying on a big turnout in the urban centers of New Haven and Bridgeport to tip the scales in the governor’s favor on Tuesday’s election. For that reason, turnout was a major focus of the rally.
Before the crowd of supporters gathered in the gymnasium of Wilbur Cross high school in East Rock, Obama emphasized the importance of everyone’s vote, telling the supporters that the slim margin of victory in 2010 — just over 6,000 votes — translated to just four votes per precinct.
“If we stay home on election day, all we’re doing is letting other folks decide the outcomes of our lives for us, “ she said, warning of a Republican victory. “We will see less support for our kids’ schools. We’ll see more folks interfering in women’s private decisions.”
Malloy is weighed down in part by the slow pace of economic recovery after the Great Recession, a similar headwind faced by President Barack Obama in his 2012 re-election bid. Michelle Obama echoed themes of that successful campaign in her speech. She noted national economic growth, with more than 10 million new jobs created since 2010.
Malloy, who spoke briefly in introducing the first lady, ticked through the state’s accomplishments over the past four years. He particularly emphasized that the state budget is balanced without cuts to services or layoffs among police officers or teachers. But he made voter turnout his main focus, underscoring the closeness of the race.
“If you want to know why I’m on this stage, it’s because of people like you,” he said. “It’s because of what you did on election day.”
Obama is part of an army of high-powered Democrats journeying to Connecticut to try to aid Malloy, one of the most vulnerable blue state Democrats in the country. Former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73 spoke in Hartford on Oct. 13, and Barack Obama is coming to rally in Bridgeport on Sunday, Nov. 2.
Among those rallying the crowd before the governor and first lady took the stage were both of Connecticut’s U.S. Senators, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.
DeLauro, seeking her 13th term representing New Haven in the U.S. House of Representatives, received an especially warm welcome from the crowd. She compared the coming gubernatorial election to game seven of the World Series, a high stakes contest with no room for error. She also made a plug for her own candidacy, calling any opportunity to serve “a blessing.”
The first lady will continue to support Democrats in the days ahead with a trip to Illinois to speak on behalf of Gov. Pat Quinn.