Democratic National Convention

Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama Trade Compliments in Denver

08/26/2008 at 10:15 PM EDT

Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama Trade Compliments in Denver
Obama (left) and Clinton
Landov; Abbaca
Even during her speech Monday at the Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama says her mind was on her kids.

"School is about to start, and I was thinking about how I was going to get Malia's books and locker combination," Obama told a room of supporters at the Emily's List gala in Denver, where she shared the platform Tuesday with a laudatory Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The two women spoke separately before the 2,500 supporters, many of whom had paid $5,000 for the privilege of hearing Clinton preview what she is expected to say in Tuesday night's speech: "Work as hard for Barack Obama as you did for me."

Clinton looked rested and fit, dressed in a beige linen suit, as she stepped to the podium to thank her many followers at the fund-raiser for Early Money Is Like Yeast, a group that supports female candidates for government. She urged them to support the Obama/Biden ticket because they "will champion the issues we care about."

Then Clinton lauded Michelle Obama, complimenting her on a "terrific" speech at the DNC – though Clinton wasn't there in the Pepsi Center at the time. ("She couldn't just walk into the convention hall without being a distraction," a source tells PEOPLE about why Clinton didn't attend.)

Instead, Clinton had participated in an event promoting an issue she's passionate about, micro-credit initiatives to help women lift themselves out of poverty. But a friend of the New York senator's said she did watch the speech on television.

On Tuesday, Clinton assured the supporters that with Michelle Obama, "they have someone to call" in the White House on women's issues and that "Michelle Obama is somebody who will answer that phone."

Like Clinton, Obama chose beige; unlike Clinton, she looked tired when she took the podium. She, too, had kind words: "No one," she said, "has been more gracious, forthcoming and helpful to me over the last several months than Hillary Clinton."

She finished by letting the Emily's List supporters know that the Obamas need what Clinton called for: their support. "Don't think just Barack needs you," she said. "I am going to need you, too."

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