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Michelle Obama in Chicago: Election ‘closer than the last one’

First lady Michelle Obama. File photo.  (AP Photo/The News   Observer Takaaki Iwabu)

First lady Michelle Obama. File photo. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Takaaki Iwabu)

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Updated: October 29, 2012 7:05AM

In the multi-level Lincoln Park home of one of the biggest political donors in America, first lady Michelle Obama implored a crowd of about 200 people on Thursday not to take anything for granted.

The Nov. 6 election is too close, she warned.

“The only guarantee you have in this election is it will be closer than the last one,” she said.

“Focus with me,” said the first lady, dressed in a cream-colored pants suit, putting her fingers up to her eyes.

She then told the crowd not to take anything for granted. “We need to work harder than ever.” She noted the wins in battleground states in 2008 were by slim margins.

The remarks came in what could be Obama’s last pre-election appearance in her hometown. She was here to raise money at a pair of fund-raising events and tape a TV show. She also found time to enjoy her favorite pizza, from Italian Fiesta Pizzeria, and some Garrett’s Popcorn.

The first lady began her day at NBC Tower to tape “The Steve Harvey Show,” which is to air next Wednesday. She then headed to fund-raisers at Harpo Studios and another at the home of Democratic mega donor Fred Eychaner. The event at the North Side Eychaner home is run under the umbrella of the Obama campaign’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership Council.

Mrs. Obama talked about growing up on the South Side of Chicago and the values she was taught there, including the value of hard work over wealth.

She talked about community.

“No one is where they are on their own,” she said. “You value everyone’s contributions. You treat everyone with respect.”

She said her husband espouses those values.

In neither appearance did the first lady mention Republican Mitt Romney by name. She vigorously defended her husband’s administration, saying President Barack Obama helped save the auto industry and create jobs at a time when the threat of depression loomed.

“Barack has been fighting for us. He has been struggling with us,” she said at the earlier event at Harpo Studios. “See, and together, slowly but surely we have been pulling ourselves out of that hole that we started in. For 3 1/2 years we’ve been moving forward and making progress, and we’re beginning to see that change we all can believe in.”

She spoke of her husband as someone who made the hard decisions and sometimes had to break bad news to the American people.

“It is important to have a president who doesn’t just tell you what we want to hear but who tells you the truth,” she said.

She said the president was handed an economic mess when he first took office.

“Instead of pointing fingers, instead of placing blame, Barack got to work,” she said at the second event. That won loud whistles and cheers. The crowd then drowned her out with cheers when she began talking about jobs the president had created.

While she spoke at the mostly LGBT event, she said her husband knew the value of having the freedom to be “married to the love of their life,” to loud cheers.

Tickets for the Eychaner event started at $250 and went up to $15,000. Both fund-raisers will benefit the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fund-raising committee of Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.

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