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Obamas mix playful banter with hardcore political pitch

By Ed Henry, CNN Senior White House Correspondent
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama appear together at a campaign event
  • The event was a fundraiser held in a private home
  • They are on their first joint campaign swing since 2008

Columbus, Ohio(CNN) -- At their maiden campaign event together for the midterm election, First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama mixed playful banter with a hardcore political pitch to re-elect Democratic incumbents in Ohio and across the country.

At a Cleveland fundraiser before heading here for a late-night rally on the campus of Ohio State University, Mrs. Obama introduced her husband as "the love of my life, even though he doesn't always think it. And more importantly, the president of the United States."

"It is not true that more importantly I am the president of the United States," the president replied when he got the microphone. "More importantly, I am Michelle Obama's husband, and Malia and Sasha's father, and Michelle has put up with me through thick and thin, and I'm grateful for her each and every day."

Since this is their first joint campaign swing since 2008, the president told the crowd that he's normally campaigning all alone just listening to his iPod, and teased the First Lady about telling him what to do.

"We had a wonderful conversation on the way here," the president said of their flight aboard Air Force One, pausing for effect. "And she's telling me what I should do. It's true. ... You think I"m joking. I'm not. I have witnesses."

About 350 people attended the fundraiser held in a private home with tickets ranging from $750 to $5,000 per person. The proceeds benefited Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland -- who is facing a tough challenge from Republican John Kasich -- and the state Democratic party.

The first lady cast the upcoming election as a test of whether voters can move past cynicism in the country, saying Strickland and the president ignore polls and "noisy chatter" to try and help move the country forward on issues like health care, college affordability and aid to military veterans.

The president repeated familiar themes from his recent travels, comparing the change he is trying to achieve to such monumental moments in American history as ending slavery and giving women the right to vote.

He told the crowd, "I implore you" to re-elect Strickland, contending that the governor has been working hard to turn around the state's especially hard-hit economy.

 
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