A week before the midterm elections, Michelle Obama said Monday that the race for the congressional majority is "too close" and voters must recapture the energy that swept her husband and fellow Democrats to power in 2008.
The first lady, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, were the headline speakers at an event in San Francisco aimed at rallying the party's base.
All three women acknowledged that times are tough for many Americans, despite what they described as major progress over the past two years.
"For a lot of folks, change hasn't come fast enough," Obama told the crowd of 700 Democratic Party donors at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's fundraiser. "The truth is, it's going to take a lot longer to dig us out of this hole than any of us would like."
However, she said, "we've come much too far to turn back now."
Obama asked the predominantly female audience to recall the excitement and optimism they felt coming in to the 2008 presidential election, and to try to muster that same enthusiasm this year.
"That energy we had two years ago, that's what we need and nothing short of that," she said.
Biden echoed that sentiment, urging Democrats to "make 10 more calls, send 10 more e-mails, bring 10 more people to the polls."
The $500-a-plate fundraiser was expected to raise about $1.6 million for the DCCC's final campaign efforts.
The committee has been active throughout California this year in support of a half-dozen promising congressional challengers and potentially vulnerable incumbents — an unusually high number for the heavily gerrymandered state.
Though the crowd gave her a warm welcome, Pelosi largely took a back seat at Monday's event. She reportedly made impromptu remarks to the crowd before the evening event officially began, and her comments during the program were limited to praising the two women with whom she shared the stage.
Her appearance on her home turf was one of several tightly controlled public events she has attended during the fall election season. She has, instead, focused on raising money for Democratic candidates this cycle.
Her relatively low profile reflects the success Republicans have had in making her the face of what they say is the problem — the Democrats' control of the presidency and Congress, and their agenda of health care and financial overhauls.
Acknowledging the GOP's momentum leading in to the election, Obama warned fellow Democrats that they will have no one to blame but themselves if they let their majority slip away.
"This is too close, this will be on us," she said. "This election, it's about all we have left to do in the months and years ahead."
Obama will continue her swing through California over the next two days. Her scheduled appearances include two Los Angeles events with Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is facing a tough re-election challenge from Republican Carly Fiorina.
The first lady's trip comes on the heels of a two-day visit last week by President Barack Obama, as well as a recent string of appearances by former President Bill Clinton.
Associated Press Writer Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.
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