With more than an hour to go before Michelle Obama was scheduled to arrive in Bethlehem, Mayor John Callahan warmed up the crowd with a call to action for those who filled the Johnston Hall gymnasium at Moravian College.
“We’ve got 88 days to make a difference,” Callahan declared. “Are you ready to go?”
“Yeah!” the crowd of perhaps 1,000 people shouted back.
“Are you ready to go?” he asked again.
“Yeah!” the crowd responded.
The mayor briefly recalled his time as a student at Moravian, an opportunity he had thanks to affordable student loans and Pell Grants.
“Without those kinds of programs, a school like Moravian would have been out of reach for me,” said Callahan, emphasizing that the re-election of the president is important to preserve middle-class access to a college education.
Obama “understands that an education is the great equalizer. It’s the one thing that will allow children to succeed in life,” Callahan said.
The first lady was expected to arrive shortly after 7 p.m. to discuss her “It Takes One” initiative to grow the grassroots effort to get the president re-elected. A large part of the discussion will be the importance of the president’s policies to the middle class.
Laura Collins, the Obama For America field organizer for Bethlehem, tried to exhort the supporters in the room to “do one thing” to thank the first lady and help the campaign in the next week.
The Freedom High School graduate said campaign team leader Kathy Harrington convinced her to come out for one meeting in February even though she was working two jobs.
“I went out because I believe in the president’s policies,” Collins said. “Hearing those stories and telling those stories is what’s keeping us around.
“It takes one phone call to a friend telling someone from your heart why you support the president. And that one phone call makes a difference.”
Callahan made a similar appeal.
“Look to your left, look to your right. Look in each other’s eyes and reconfirm that you’re going to what it takes to win the election in November,” the mayor said.