Thousands of people waited in the summer heat for a chance to hear first lady Michelle Obama speak at a Miami Lakes school on Tuesday afternoon. While Obama supporter Morgan Owens said she enjoyed to hear the first lady speak, school board member Renier Diaz de la Portilla said public schools are "places for learning, not places for politicking."
First lady Michelle Obama urged supporters in Miami Lakes on Tuesday to help get people to the polls to re-elect her husband.
“It might mean just registering one more person in your town. I want you to think with every door you knock on, with every event you host, with every conversation you have, just think in your mind, say: ‘This could be the one,’” she told the crowd.
Thousands of people had waited in the summer heat for a chance to hear her speak at Barbara Goleman High School in Miami Lakes. They have waited in line since early morning. The free event was ticketed in advance.
She was swinging through Florida, campaigning for her husband and encouraging Americans to register to vote.
“Barack Obama knows what it means when a family struggles. This is not a hypothetical for him,” she said.
"I think it's actually not just informative but enjoyable to see her speak and I do want to be able to learn as much as I can about what they have to say about the campaign," said Obama supporter Morgan Owens.
But some Miami-Dade County Public Schools board members protested the event, while others welcomed the visit.
“I think it’s outrageous. I believe that our public schools are places for learning, not places for politicking,” board member Renier Diaz de la Portilla has said.
He is a Republican running for the Florida House of Representatives, but says this is not a partisan issue.
“We have welcomed elected officials in our public schools for years. But never, that I can recall in recent memory, have we used it to host a political rally to recruit volunteers for a campaign that’s in November,” said de la Portilla, who represents District 5.
Board member Carlos Curbelo of District 7 is with de la Portilla. He sent an letter to the school board attorney asking the district to immediately reconsider allowing public schools to be used by campaigns.
John Schuster, the Miami-Dade public schools’ spokesman, said the district is leasing out the gym where the first lady will speak to grassroots supporters on Tuesday. That’s in line with the district’s policy, he said.
De la Portilla is proposing to change the existing policy.
Other school board members were for the visit.
"The first lady's visit is nothing short of a wonderful opportunity for students and all members of our community to be active citizens and make our voices heard,” said Wilbert “Tee” Holloway, who represents District 1, in a statement.
The Obama campaign paid the school district $2,351 to rent the school's gym.
After Miami Lakes, she heads to Orlando, where she is scheduled to address a crowd in an 1,800-seat theater at the University of Central Florida Arena.
President Barack Obama is facing an extremely tight race this fall against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Although the president holds a modest lead in the state, Florida is considered one of the top battleground states with 29 electoral college votes up for grabs.
The trip is Michelle Obama's first official, public campaign jaunt through Florida this year.