Clinton supporters started packing into the Fitzgerald Field House on the Pitt campus at 1 p.m. The First Lady began speaking around 3:30 p.m.
By the afternoon, the line to get in stretched for blocks as supporters began arriving early in the morning. The Field House became so packed not everyone could get inside.
Early estimates suggest as many as 3,000 people turned out for the event, including many young people, who the Clinton campaign is trying to reach most.
During her speech, the First Lady cast Clinton as a tough, compassionate fighter who doesn’t back down and who loves her country.
“Experience matters, preparation matters, temperament matters,” she said. “Hillary Clinton has it all. She’s the real deal.”
She told the crowd that she understands some voters are uninspired this year, but this particular election is too important not to vote.
“Either Hillary Clinton or her opponent will be the next president this year. The stakes are too high to take that chance” by not voting or casting a protest vote for someone else, she said. “It isn’t about voting for the perfect candidate. There’s no such thing.”
Obama never mentioned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump by name during the campaign rally, but she couldn’t have been more effusive in praising Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton has been a lawyer, a law professor, First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, U.S. senator, Secretary of State, that’s why I’m inspired by Hillary,” Obama said. “I’m inspired by her persistence and her consistency, by her heart and her guts, and I’m inspired by her lifelong record of public service. No one in our lifetime has ever had as much experience and exposure to the presidency – not Barack, not Bill, nobody – and yes, she just happens to be a woman.”
Obama went on to say that it was young people in Pennsylvania that put her husband over the top in the state in 2012, and she wants them to do the same for Clinton now.
Earlier in the day, the First Lady made a stop in Philadelphia. She never mentioned Trump by name at the rally at LaSalle University either, but there was no question that she was warning voters that President Trump would be the same as candidate Trump.
“The presidency doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are,” she told the cheering crowd.
She referred to several comments Trump made during and after Monday’s debate, including his apparent acknowledgment that he’s paid no taxes some years. Trump said that makes him “smart.”
“If a candidate is erratic and threatening, if a candidate traffics in prejudice, fear and lies on the campaign trail, if a candidate thinks not paying taxes makes you smart, or that it’s good business when people lose their homes; if a candidate regularly and flippantly makes cruel and insulting comments about women, about how we look, how we act – well, sadly, that’s who that candidate really is,” she said. “That is the kind of president they will be.”
She said the country needs a leader who is steady and measured because when making war-or-peace decisions, “the president can’t just pop off or lash out irrationally. No, we need an adult in the White House, I guarantee you.”
Trump’s campaign reacted to Obama’s speech with a statement saying Clinton is in “panic mode” in Pennsylvania because polls show the Republican presidential nominee surging in the battleground state.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)