DENVER (AP) – First Lady Michelle Obama urged Colorado Democrats Thursday to recapture the energy of six years ago, choking up in a college town and reminiscing on her husband’s first nomination in Denver.

Obama was in Colorado to rally Democrats for Sen. Mark Udall, who faces a tight contest against Republican Rep. Cory Gardner in a race that could determine which party controls the Senate.

Udall was elected to the Senate in 2008, when President Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination in Denver and became the first Democrat since 1992 to win Colorado.

Obama reminisced about Colorado Democrats before a crowd of about 1,500 Denver Democrats and a mostly student crowd of about 2,000 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

“I love you all,” she told the students.

Obama told the story of a young woman she had mentored at the White House, who grew up homeless and had her father killed when she was a baby. Now she is attending Georgetown University.

Obama said there are many youths like that woman.

“These kids have every reason to give up. They have every reason to quit. But they are so hungry to succeed, they are so desperate to lift themselves up,” Obama said, her voice occasionally shaking with emotion. “That is what keeps Barack and I working so hard despite the mess. We work hard because those kids can never give up.”

She urged the crowd to go vote at a polling station in the same student union where she spoke.

“Bring the cute guy or girl you met at the party last weekend,” she said to cheers.

In Denver Obama focused on the improving economy and urged Democrats to work as hard as in 2008.

“I want to take us back a little bit, to remember how bad things were back then,” Obama said. She credited Democrats in the Senate for helping the economy recover.

Obama also talked about reproductive rights, a main plank of Udall’s campaign. Democrats are counting on turning out their base voters, especially younger women.

“If we don’t elect leaders like Mark … then we know exactly what will happen. We will see more folks interfering in women’s private decisions about our health care,” she said.

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– By Nicholas Riccardi and Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer

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