Michelle Obama focuses on young voters in Madison

President plans visit to Wisconsin later this month
Michelle Obama focuses on young voters in Madison

First lady Michelle Obama spent some time in Madison Tuesday trying to fire up young voters before the November election.

Obama spoke for about 25 minutes to a capacity crowd at the Capitol Theater in the Overture Center campaigning for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke. Obama said she returned to the state after her visit in Milwaukee last week because she wanted to speak specifically with young voters.

“For young people, more than anyone else, this election is about you,” Obama said.

Obama is trying to reignite the young electorate for Burke, who is facing Republican Gov. Scott Walker in November. Obama told the crowd that Burke would create jobs for new graduates, reduce student loan debt and increase the minimum wage.

“In the end it all affects these kids,” Obama said Monday, gesturing to a stage full of University of Wisconsin students behind her. “It affects their opportunity, who they can be, how they see themselves in the world. This is real stuff. So between now and November we need to be energized for them.”

UW sophomore Savion Castro was mentioned by name by the first lady during the speech as one of those young people the election affects. Obama met Castro at a student roundtable last week in Milwaukee, and said she was touched by his personal story of growing up homeless and making it to college after he was connected with a college preparatory program. Castro, who is also a Burke volunteer, said he was humbled by being mentioned and even more motivated to get out the youth vote.

“We’re going to make sure they turn out even if we have to drag them to the polls,” Castro said laughing Tuesday. “I do of course care who they vote for, but as long as they vote I think they’ll make the right decision.”

Recent graduates Katie Dreps and Rebecca Wayman said after the event that they weren’t concerned about young voter apathy.

“You see it on social media all the time, you see it on Facebook, people are talking and I hope they’re talking on Nov. 4,” Dreps said.

The first lady ended her speech by telling the crowd, “If women and minorities and young people show up, Mary wins.”

Burke’s spokesman, Joe Zepecki, said the president is planning a visit to Wisconsin later this month.