SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Michelle Obama told a western Massachusetts audience Friday she and President Obama know what it’s like to struggle for the American Dream.

The first lady made a fundraising visit to the state for her husband’s re-election campaign.

The Republican newspaper of Springfield reported that the first lady told a luncheon at the Basketball Hall of Fame that her father, a pump operator for the city of Chicago, contributed what he could to supplement grants she and her brother received.

“Education was everything in our family,” Obama said. “It was our ticket to the middle class, our path to the American Dream.”

The president, she said, also knows what it means to work hard amid financial struggles.

“He believes that when you work hard and walk through the doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. Not in America. You reach back,” she said. “That’s what this election is about.”

Among about 150 people attending the $1,000-a-plate event were Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Springfield’s U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Mayor Domenic Sarno.

The first lady said that while families are still struggling in a difficult economy, the country has been gaining private sector jobs for the last 29 consecutive months.

Also on her schedule were a fundraising reception at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, featuring singer James Taylor, and a $20,000-a-seat dinner at the Richmond home of Patrick and his wife Diane.


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