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Maria Shriver Endorses Obama at UCLA Rally

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(l-r) Caroline Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey, Maria Shriver, Maria Elena Durazo, Michelle Obama

"If Barack Obama was a state," California's First Lady said, "he'd be California."

The ecstatic crowd at the 3/4-full Pauley Pavilion punctuated each of Maria Shriver's follow-up descriptors with a resounding "YEAH!"

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"Diverse, open, smart, independent, bucks tradition. Innovative. Inspirational. Dreamer. Leader."

Michelle Obama's lengthy introduction for Maria Shriver had everyone looking around. The crowd erupted when Shriver appeared (see the video below). "I woke up at 7:30 this morning and just felt I had to be here," she said. "I told my daughter, 'I feel like I should be at UCLA today." To which Katherine Schwarzenegger replied, "...if you think you can change just one person... if you think you can make a difference, then go."

Governor Schwarzenegger endorsed Republican candidate John McCain earlier in the week. Shriver never explicitly endorsed Obama but the media in general (LAist included) is reporting her appearance and speech is endorsement enough. She spoke more specifically of unity, independent choice and the energy it takes to be a spouse of a candidate.

Michelle Obama energized the crowd over a 30-minute speech, proving that at least one potential first spouse on the Democratic ticket is genuinely driven toward affecting change.

The latest California field poll released this morning had Senator Clinton's lead slimmed to just two points over Obama (Zogby had Obama up four points) in advance of Tuesday's primary. The Obama surge may carry through Tuesday on the weight of Shriver's endorsement and Michelle Obama's speech.

Maria Elena Durazo, Caroline Kennedy, and Oprah Winfrey spoke briefly before Obama. The day's first surprise walked on stage alongside Michelle Obama -- Stevie Wonder. Stevie explained that while he was a Clinton supporter in the 90's he is now behind Obama. Before leaving the stage he led the crowd in an arpeggio "do-re-mi" chant: "Ba-a-rack-O-ba-a-ma, Ba-a-rack-O-ba-a-ma" (watch the video).

Photo by Kelly C. Gallamore for LAist