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First lady praises President Obama's work during Kansas City fundraiser

At fundraiser, Michelle Obama tells audience her husband “has worked very hard to dig us out of this mess.”By DAVE HELLINGThe Kansas City Star

First lady Michelle Obama was a third of the way through her speech at a Kansas City fundraiser Monday when the whoop- whoop-whoop of a tripped security alarm echoed through the museum complex at 18th and Vine.

“This is the truth talking,” she said to laughter and applause as officials scrambled to turn off the bell. “You’ve got alarms going off. You know I’m speaking the truth.”

It didn’t take much to convince the audience of 300 ticket holders that they were hearing the truth — at least the truth as they and the Democratic Party understand it.

During her 30-minute address, the first lady praised President Barack Obama for, among other things, the auto company bailout, health care reform, education improvements, equal pay for women, the killing of Osama bin Laden and the economic rescue.

“Your president has worked very hard to dig us out of this mess,” she told the audience.

Obama delivered her prepared remarks in the foyer between the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on a slightly raised stage, using a teleprompter. The hall appeared to be half full, with more women than men. News cameras were not allowed.

Tickets cost between $200 and $10,000, with the highest donors meeting the first lady and getting a picture taken before her remarks. Donations went to the Obama Victory Fund, a combined effort of the Obama for America campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Final fundraising totals were not available Monday. The campaign is expected to pay at least part of the cost of the visit.

Michelle Obama did not refer to any specific Republican presidential candidates during her speech, or the Republican Party.

But she made it clear her husband’s campaign still needs help despite recent improvements in public opinion polls.

“Are you ready to make it happen?” she asked to loud applause.

After the speech, Janice Nunnelly of Kansas City said, “For once we’ve got a president and first lady that are for everybody, and I am so proud.”

Before visiting 18th and Vine, the first lady met with several veterans at Kansas City International Airport.

She planned a visit later in the day to St. Louis for another fundraising event.

Several reports have suggested the president won’t make much of an effort this year in Missouri, a one-time bellwether state that has grown more Republican. In 2008, Sen. John McCain narrowly won Missouri despite the Obama campaign’s investment of time and personnel in the state.

But Missouri may be getting a second look. A White House official said Monday that the president will speak at Joplin High School’s commencement ceremony on May 21, almost a year after a deadly tornado devastated the southwest Missouri community.

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