The actress Gabrielle Union headed to historically black North Carolina Central University in Durham to stump for President Obama, with the aim of drumming up support in a state the president won four years ago.
"Fired up?" she asked the audience, reviving a popular chant that Obama used in 2008. "Ready to go!" replied the students in the campus's 500-seat auditorium. The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper at the nearby University of North Carolina, reported that the line to get into the auditorium snaked outside of the building and down the street.
"As we're bombarded with a 24-hour news cycle telling us everything that the GOP believes is wrong with our president, it's important to drive the point home what exactly he has accomplished, separate the truth from fiction and also mobilize voters," the actress later told The Root. "I think the second you start taking people for granted is the second you start losing people, and that goes for every aspect of life. On the world's biggest stage for the most important job there is, we cannot afford to take anyone for granted."
Union has been a vocal Obama supporter, and last year she was tapped by the White House to sit on the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women.
Valerie Jarrett, who is the president's senior adviser, and Jim Messina, who is helping run the president's re-election campaign, also attended the rally. Their addresses to the audiences focused on the White House's policies aimed at helping college-aged Americans, like boosting funding for Pell Grants and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The Obama campaign has scheduled at least 28 more events like this one at HBCUs over the next two weeks. The president's 2008 victory in North Carolina was powered largely by younger voters — he lost every other age category in the state, but dominated among "Millennials", capturing about 70 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 that year.
Because of his margin of victory (365 electoral votes to John McCain's 173), Obama didn't need the Tar Heel State's 15 electoral votes in 2008. But winning North Carolina carried symbolic weight: it was one of the nine states Bush won in 2004 that flipped blue for Obama in 2008 and helped proved that the president could win in the South.