The public, gathered in a ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center Oct. 4, straightened their backs and looked up. More and more secret service agents were coming out from the back, alert and focused, which meant that first lady Michelle Obama would take the stage any minute.

When North Carolina governor nominee Roy Cooper introduced Obama, about 45 minutes behind schedule, she came out to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” which has become like a special anthem for the Obama family.

Obama was in Charlotte to rally on behalf of democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and she described the moment as “nostalgic” because it reminded her of when President Barack Obama was campaigning for president in North Carolina. But things are different now for the Obama family than they were eight, or even four years ago, and Obama says she has mixed emotions.

First lady Michelle Obama shakes hands with crowd members during Charlotte rally. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.
First lady Michelle Obama shakes hands with crowd members during Charlotte rally. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.

“It’s a little bittersweet because we are experiencing a time of great transition,” Obama said. “My husband has got to get a job; somebody’s got to hire that man,” joked Obama, adding, “As Barack says, ‘We’ve got to make sure we get our security deposit back [from the White House], so we’re working on that.”

Obama also took the time to discuss Clinton’s qualifications and made some indirect quips against Republic nominee Donald Trump.

“When making life-or-death, war-or-peace decisions, a president can’t just pop off or lash out irrationally and I think we can all agree that someone who is roaming around at 3 a.m., tweeting, should not have their fingers on the nuclear codes,” said Obama, referencing to the controversy Trump caused when he criticized a former Miss Universe contestant on Twitter at 3 a.m..

One of the most important things Obama wanted to stress to Charlotte residents at the rally was the importance of voting. She shared with the room that Barack won the state of North Carolina when he was running for president in 2008 by just 14,000 votes. When you do the math, Obama explained, that was just two or three votes per precinct.

“So I just want you all to think about everybody in this room who didn’t vote, everybody that didn’t pick up the phone who thought … what does it matter? It matters. Do you hear me? It matters,” Obama said, waving her hands in the air.

UNC Charlotte student Lyazzat Stamgaziyeva, a sophomore studying communication in mass media and business, was in attendance at the rally.

“When my friends told me that the first lady was going to visit Charlotte, I was very happy and excited to see her because I’ve never experienced something that big. The points that she made and talked about were very clever and she really inspired me,” Stamgaziyeva said.

And that was what Obama was there to do: to inspire the people of Charlotte and to get them to vote in November.

After her speech, Obama took the time to shake hands with the crowd. One woman asked for a photo and Obama paused to explain that while technically she wasn’t supposed to, they could take a quick “selfie.”  The woman, whose hands were shaking, couldn’t figure out how to switch the camera on her smartphone so that it was facing her. Obama took it upon herself to show the women how to flip cameras on a smartphone.