PORTLAND — First lady Michelle Obama told hundreds of supporters today at a Portland fundraiser that the presidential election will determine the nation’s future for generations.

The election presents a stark contrast between two visions and a GOP victory will hurt working families, she said.

“Whether it’s health care or the economy or education or foreign policy, the choice we make in this election will determine nothing less than who we are as a country and who we want to be,” she said.

The 25-minute speech focused primarily on her husband’s policy initiatives, and some of those initiatives require patience, she said.

“Change that is lasting and meaningful takes time,” she said.

About 650 people paid at least $100 each to attend today’s rally, which featured appearances by the state’s top Democrats, U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud. Donors in the “preferred” section paid $250.

Pingree told the crowd the she met Obama earlier in the day and found herself “star struck.”

“She’s tall, outspoken and smart,” Pingree told the crowd. “I can’t say how pleased I am that she represents us.”

Many of those who heard the speech said they were moved by her message.

“She was fabulous,” said Anne Belden, president of Hardy Girls, Healthy Women, a nonprofit that promotes learning experiences for young women. “I love the role model she’s being for women and girls everywhere.”

State Rep. Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, brought his 5-year-old daughter, Carly, to the fundraiser. They were among a few dozen VIPs who met with the first lady during a private reception just before she spoke.

McCabe said he was moved when Obama spoke about her husband’s commitment to helping people and promoting opportunity for everyone.

“She talked about how we don’t leave people behind,” McCabe said. “She was a dynamic speaker. As good as him if not better.”

Around 4 p.m., a seven-car motorcade brought Obama to the Portland International Jetport. She then flew to a Providence, R.I., for another fundraising event.

Before today’s Ocean Gateway event, Obama attended a smaller fundraiser at a private home in Cape Elizabeth.

Today ends the year’s third-quarter period for campaign finance reports. Obama for America, the president’s re-election campaign committee, collected more than $47 million in the quarter ending June 30 and is on track to exceed the $745 million he raised to win election in 2008.

Democrats declined to say how much Michelle Obama raised during her visit to Maine today.

The crowd included a mixture of young activists and long-time Democrats. At least two candidates for Portland mayor were there, Mayor Nick Mavodones Jr. and Michael Brennan. Also there were former Secretary of State Matt Dunlop, former Attorney General Janet Mills and Kit St. John, director of the left-leaning Main Center for Economic Policy.

This was Michelle Obama’s first visit to Maine since the family vacationed at Bar Harbor in the summer of 2010. Her husband visited during the presidential primary four years ago.

Fourteen girls, mostly 11- and 12-year-olds, from the Yarmouth Colts soccer team, came to get their photograph taken with the first lady.

“We are so excited. Our feet were jittery all day,” said Greta Elder, 12.