FLOTUS Listening Tour Continues

Feb 4, 2009 2:52pm

ABC News’ Yunji de Nies and Teri Finneman report:

First Lady Michelle Obama made the second stop on her newly launched Washington D.C. "listening tour" with a visit to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

When Mrs. Obama took the stage, someone in the crowd shouted, "We love you!" To which she responded, "I love you too, that’s why I wanted to be here."

Mrs. Obama addressed an auditorium packed with HUD employees, thanking them for their work and rallying them for the work ahead.

"Great leaders are only as great as the people who hold them up," she told the crowd of 800 people. "We need each and every one of you to recommit to the task at hand."

Hundreds more watched from a nearby overflow room. The event was also broadcast on an internal television channel to 9000 employees throughout the department. 

"Barack and I believe that investing in the community that you live in is critical.  And for the people here in this agency, we are now your neighbors," Mrs. Obama said.

Dressed in a gray skirt suit and pearls, she spoke for about seven minutes before working the ropeline, shaking hands and smiling for pictures.

HUD employees learned of the visit mid-morning and some started lining up as much as two hours before the speech. Joy Melnick could not recall a first lady visiting HUD in the more than 40 years she’s worked for the agency.

"I think both of them [the Obamas] want the people to know they’re for them," Melnick said. "They just know how to draw people to them."

Mrs. Obama is on an indefinite federal agency tour throughout the city, to meet the thousands of men and women who now work for her husband. Her mission: to thank them and rally them for more work ahead. It’s also a chance for her to hear the concerns of federal government employees, and relay them back to the president.

Mrs. Obama’s first stop was at the Department of Education on Monday. No word on where she’ll go next, though she’s not expected to make her next stop until sometime next week.

– Yunji de Nies and Teri Finneman report

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