Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama

With less than two weeks until Election Day, Hillary Clinton and ace supporter, First Lady Michelle Obama, will campaign together Thursday at Wake Forest University at a rally to encourage early voting.

The appearance, their first joint campaign stop this election season, will be from 2 to 4 p.m., at Hearn Plaza, an outdoor space in the center of campus. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m.

Based on seating at Wake Forest’s annual commencement ceremony, Hearn Plaza has a capacity of about 13,000 people. Parking will be at BB&T Stadium, 499 Deacon Blvd., with shuttles available to take people to campus. There will not be parking on campus, said Cheryl Walker, a spokeswoman for Wake Forest.

With her popularity increasing, Obama has become a valued campaigner for Clinton, receiving mostly positive reviews for her ability to reach a diverse crowd of voters while speaking bluntly about challenger Donald Trump.

John Dinan, a professor of political science at Wake Forest University, noted that the joint campaign stop falls on the first day that early voting expands beyond the Forsyth County Board of Elections office in downtown Winston-Salem.

Clinton, who is holding a slim lead over Trump in most statewide polls, urged people to vote early at campaign stops in Durham and Charlotte on Sunday.

“The key goal for the Clinton campaign in North Carolina is to attract as many as possible of the voters who were critical to Barack Obama’s victory in the state in 2008 and strong showing in 2012, especially African-Americans, young voters and residents of college towns,” Dinan said.

Obama’s appearance with Clinton, he added, “is intended to help turn out a number of these voters who were crucial to Barack Obama’s success in the state in his campaigns.”

Eric Ellison, the chairman of the Forsyth County Democratic Party, said Obama can help Clinton carry Forsyth County, which would bode well for her chances to win North Carolina and the national election.

“She’s authentic with a real voice that speaks to African-Americans, people of color, women, working people. It resonates with everybody,” he said. “She’s about as popular as a first lady can get.”

Clinton is sure to push Democrat Deborah Ross as a strong candidate in her Senate race against Winston-Salem native Richard Burr, Ellison said.

“She’s going straight to the teeth of the tiger, right here in Winston-Salem,” Ellison said.

Jesse Hunt, the communications director for the Burr campaign, said Ross fought against the creation of a state sex offender registry.

“Ross’ penchant for putting the interests of convicted criminals ahead of the safety of victims and the innocent is unsettling for mainstream North Carolina voters,” he wrote in an email.

People who want to attend the Clinton-Obama event in Winston-Salem are encouraged to RSVP www.hillaryclinton.com/events.

lodonnell@wsjournal.com (336) 727-7420 @lisaodonnellWSJ

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