First lady Michelle Obama highlights Bellevue fundraiser for Sen. Murray
October 25, 2010 · Updated 5:10 PM
First lady Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, Sen. Patty Murray and Gov. Chris Gregoire got a fundraising luncheon off to a rousing start Monday in Bellevue as they led the audience in clapping along with "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."
The event, a fundraiser for Murray at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, attracted a crowd estimated at 1,400, who filled lunch tables in the hotel's ballroom. Tickets to the event were reported to be between $75 and $150.
Obama also was scheduled to appear at a second, private fundraiser at the Medina, home of Jeff Brotman, co-founder of Costco Wholesale Corp. Tickets for that event were advertised at $1,000 and $7,500.
Gregoire said Obama and Biden flew in on a Boeing airplane, checked their e-mail using Microsoft software, drank some Starbucks coffee and would be sure to pick up some candy from Seattle-based Fran's Chocolates, reportedly a favorite of Obama's.
The crowd appeared to be heavily female and speeches were tailored to women’s' issues. The audience delivered a standing ovation when Gregoire reminded them that Washington is the only state to simultaneously have women serving as both U.S. senators and governor.
Gregoire criticized Murray's opponent, Dino Rossi, for his positions, including his stances on abortion and emergency contraception. Rossi is opposed to abortion except in cases of rape or incest, a stance he attributes to his Roman Catholic faith. Gregoire also criticized Rossi for opposing the national Democratic effort to tighten regulations on Wall Street following the Great Recession.
"He does not share our values," Gregoire said. "We need Patty Murray out there fighting for us, not Dino Rossi out there fighting for Wall Street."
Murray talked up her record, including national Democratic priorities such as Wall Street reform, that national health care bill, a measure attempting to give women equal pay. She also touted more specific measures, including care for veterans and attempts to win a lucrative air refueling tanker contract for the Boeing Co.
"This state is my family and like any mom, when my family is hurting, I get to work with all the energy I have to make things right again," Murray said. "And believe me, I will take on the most powerful to make sure my family, my state, has what it needs to get it back on its feet again."
Biden also spoke briefly, highlighting Democratic efforts to improve education and praising Murray's advocacy on behalf of military veterans. "Michelle and I are here because we need leaders like Patty in the United States Senate," Biden said.
Obama was welcomed to the lectern with a standing ovation. She began her speech at 12:28 p.m. and would speak until 12:56 p.m.
Obama said Murray approaches public service with a mother's perspective, recalling Murray's original campaign as the self-described "mom in tennis shoes."
"She came to this work as a mom _ as a mom in tennis shoes _ because she wanted to help people. She came to this work because she wanted to solve problems," Obama said. "That is what we do as moms, and that is what Patty has been doing every day for the people of this state."
Obama ran through a long list of the administration and Congress' priorities in the first half of the president's term, including work on credit card regulations, tax cuts, mortgage assistance, financial industry reforms and appointing two women to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Obama implored the crowd to round up Democratic votes in next week's election, invoking memories of Democratic enthusiasm in the 2008 presidential campaign and saying that work was unfinished.
"This election isn't just about all that we've accomplished these past couple of years. This election is about all that we have left to do in the months and years ahead," Obama said. "And Washington, let me just say this: My husband can't do this alone.
"You see, the one thing I asked all of you over the course of the campaign _ I said, 'If I'm giving you my husband, then you have to have his back.' He needs leaders like Patty to have his back. And Patty needs folks like all of you to make that happen. So we need you to be fired up."
Editor's Note: The fundraiser was a limited access event with pool photography provided by the Associated Press.