Remarks by the First Lady at a Campaign Event -- Davie, Florida
3:12 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Yes! (Applause.) Now, this is what I call a rally! Yes! (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: We love you, Michelle!
MRS. OBAMA: We love you so much. We are ready for four more years' worth of love. (Applause.) Four more years!
Look, let me just tell you that I am more than honored and thrilled to be with you all here at Broward College, our wonderful host. I want to start by thanking Paola for that very kind introduction and for everything she is doing on behalf of the campaign. Let’s give her a round of applause. (Applause.)
And I also want to thank Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (Applause.) I know she was here earlier, and we are so grateful for her leadership and her service, and we are beyond thrilled to have her on our team.
And I want to recognize your terrific mayor, Mayor Judy Paul. (Applause.) Yes, Mayor Paul. And we’re so glad that she could be with us today. There -- Judy! What’s happening? You fired up? That’s it. (Applause.)
But most of all, I want to thank all of you for being here today. Thank you, guys. Thank you so much. (Applause.) See, I can tell you all seem pretty fired up and ready to go. (Applause.) And that’s a good thing, because I’m pretty fired up and ready to go myself because today, like I’ve been doing for a couple of years now on this campaign trail, I get to do one of my favorite things, and that is to talk about the man that I have loved and admired since I first met him 23 years ago. (Applause.) Yeah. Yeah, what did you say?
MRS. OBAMA: He’s cute! Yes! (Applause.) And as some in other rallies -- he’s downright fine. (Applause.) But here’s the thing, although my husband is handsome and charming and incredibly smart -- (applause) -- yes, indeed -- that is not why I married him.
Listen closely. (Laughter.) What truly made me fall in love with Barack Obama was something that you all see every day -- it is his character. It’s his decency and his honesty, the compassion and conviction that we have seen for four years in this man.
See, when we first met, I loved that Barack was so committed to serving others that he turned down high-paying jobs, and instead, started his career fighting to get folks back to work in struggling neighborhoods. That’s what I loved about him. I loved that he was so devoted to his family, especially the women in his life. I paid attention to that. I saw the respect he had for his mother, and how proud he was that she was able to put herself through school and still support him and his little sister as a single mom.
And I definitely saw the tenderness that he felt for his grandmother. I saw how grateful he was that long after this woman should have retired, she was still getting up every day, going to her job at a community bank day after day, doing what it took to support their family. And he saw how she was passed over for promotions simply because she was a woman. But one of the things he saw in his grandmother was a woman who just kept getting up -- you know what I’m saying? (Applause.) She kept going to that same job year after year without complaint and without regret.
And with Barack, I found a real connection, because in his life story I saw so much of my own. See, growing up on the South Side of Chicago, I watched my own father make that same uncomplaining journey every day to his job at the city water plant. And I saw how my father carried himself with that dignity -- you know? That same pride in being able to provide for his family, that same hope that one day his kids would have opportunities he never dreamed of. Now, how many people like that do we have in our lives? (Applause.)
See, like so many families in this country, our families just weren’t asking for much. See, that’s the thing -- they didn’t want much. They didn’t begrudge anyone else’s success. They didn’t mind if others had much more -- in fact, they admired it. And that’s why they pushed us to be the best that we could be. (Applause.)
But they did believe in that fundamental American promise that even if you don’t start out with much, in America, if you work hard, if you do what you’re supposed to do, then you should be able to provide a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and your grandkids. (Applause.)
And they also believed something very important that they taught us -- that when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and you’ve walked through that doorway of opportunity, you don’t slam it shut behind you. No -- you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed. (Applause.) That’s what we were taught. That’s how Barack and I and I know so many of you were raised. Those are the values we were taught.
And more than anything else, the reason why you see any passion coming out of me -- that is what’s at stake in this election. That’s what it’s all about. It’s a choice about our values, our hopes, and our aspirations for our children. It’s a choice about the America we want to leave for our kids and our grandkids.
And let’s talk about that America. Let’s lay it on the table. Because we believe in an America where every child –- you hear me -- every child, no matter where they’re born, or how much money their parents have –- every child in this country should have good schools -- (applause) -- the kind that push them, and inspire them, and prepare them for jobs and college.
We believe in an America where no one goes broke because someone gets sick -- (applause) -- where no one loses their home because someone loses a job. Not in this America.
We believe in an America where all of us -- where we understand that none of us gets where we are on our own; that we all have a community of people lifting us up; where we treat everyone with dignity and respect, from the teachers who inspire us to the janitors who keep our schools clean. (Applause.)
And in this America that we are building together, see, when one of us stumbles -- and we all stumble -- when one of us falls on hard times, we don’t turn our backs and say, “Tough luck, you’re on your own.” Not in our America, no. Instead, we extend a helping hand until they get back on their feet.
In our America, we believe that the truth matters -- (applause) -- so you don’t take shortcuts, you don’t game the system. You don’t play by your own set of rules.
And we also believe in keeping our priorities straight. See, because we all know good and well that cutting Sesame Street is no way to balance our budget. (Applause.) We absolutely know better than that. We know that shortchanging our children is not how we tackle the deficit. (Applause.)
If we want to build opportunities for all Americans, then, yes, we have to cut wasteful spending, but we also have to make smart investments in our future -- things like education and infrastructure for an economy built to last.
That is what my husband stands for. That’s the country he has been working to build for the last four years. Those are his values.
And let me tell you, as First Lady, I have seen up close and personal just how critical those values are for leading this country. I have seen how the issues that come across a President’s desk, they are always the hard ones -– the decisions that aren’t just about the bottom line, but they’re about laying a foundation for the next generation. And I have seen how important it is to have a President who doesn’t just tell us what we want to hear but who tells us the truth, even when it’s hard -- especially when it’s hard. (Applause.)
And I’ve seen that when it comes time to make those tough decisions, when everybody around you is urging you to do what’s easy, what polls best, what gets good headlines, as President, you have to be driven by the struggles and hopes and dreams of all the people you serve. It’s all right here. And that is how you make the right decisions for this country. That’s what it takes to be a leader.
And let me tell you, since the day he took office, on issue after issue, crisis after crisis, believe me, I have been there. That is what we’ve seen in my husband.
Think back to when Barack first took office. Our economy was on the brink of collapse -- do you hear me? (Applause.) And don’t take my word for it. Newspapers were using words like “meltdown,” “calamity;” declaring “Wall Street Implodes.” Do we remember any of this?
MRS. OBAMA: “Economy in Shock.”
MRS. OBAMA: How did we get there? For years, folks had been lured into buying homes they couldn’t afford so their mortgages were underwater. The auto industry was in crisis. Do we recall?
MRS. OBAMA: This economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month, and a lot of folks wondered whether we were headed for another Great Depression.
See, that is what Barack faced on day one as President. He inherited an economy in rapid decline. But instead of pointing fingers, instead of placing blame, what did your President do? He got to work. (Applause.)
He got to work because he was thinking about folks like my dad, folks like his grandmother. And that’s why he cut taxes for small businesses and working families -- because we have a President who believes that teachers and firefighters should not pay higher tax rates than millionaires and billionaires -- not in America. Not in America. (Applause.)
And that’s why, while some folks if you recall were willing to let the auto industry go under -- do you remember that?
MRS. OBAMA: With more than a million jobs that would have been lost, Barack had the backs of American workers. He put his faith in the American people. He fought hard to protect jobs for American families, and thankfully, because of that fight, today the auto industry is back. (Applause.) New cars are rolling off the lines of proud American companies like GM.
And yes, we have a long way to go to completely rebuild our economy, but understand this -- there are more and more signs every day that we are headed in the right direction: The stock market has doubled. Exports have grown by 45 percent. Manufacturers have added 500,000 jobs. We’ve had 31 straight months of private sector job growth -- the majority of Barack’s presidency. 5.2 million jobs -- new jobs, right here in the United States of America.
In addition to focusing on job creation -- because as President, you’ve got to be able to do more than one thing at the same time. (Laughter and applause.) And fortunately, your President was also focusing on improving access to health care for millions of Americans. (Applause.)
And another thing I love about my husband -- he didn’t care whether health reform was the easy thing to do politically, because that’s not who he is. He cared that it was the right thing to do. And when you hear stories like he did, meeting folks all around the country -- the woman diagnosed with breast cancer whose insurance company wouldn’t cover her care, the seniors pinching pennies to save up to buy the medicines they need, the parents who couldn’t get life-saving treatment for their children because someone lost a job -- those are the stories that drove him.
And today, because of health reform, because of what he did to fight for us, our parents and grandparents on Medicare are paying hundreds less for their prescription drugs. Today, young people can stay on their parent’s insurance until they’re 26 years old -- because of health reform. (Applause.)
Today, because of health reform, insurance companies now have to cover basic preventative care -- contraception, breast cancer screenings, mammograms -- without any out-of-pocket cost. They won’t be able to discriminate against you because you have a preexisting condition like diabetes or asthma. (Applause.)
And if you get a life-threatening illness and you need expensive treatment, no longer can they tell you, "Sorry, you’ve hit your lifetime limit and we’re not paying a penny more." That is now illegal because of health reform. (Applause.)
And when it comes to giving our young people the education they deserve, let me tell you something -- Barack knows that like me and like so many of you, we never could have gone to college without financial aid -- never. We would not be standing here today if it weren’t for financial aid. (Applause.) In fact, when we were first married, our combined student loan bill was actually higher than our mortgage.
So understand, when it comes to student debt, Barack and I, we have been there. This is not a hypothetical conversation for us. (Laughter.) And that is why Barack fought to double Pell grants for our kids, and fought to keep interest rates down. (Applause.) Because we have a President who understands it’s important -- how important it is to have all our young people be able to afford a college education. (Applause.)
And finally, when it comes to understanding the lives of women -- (applause) -- when it comes to standing up for our rights and opportunities, we know that my husband will always have our backs. (Applause.) And why do we know this? Let me tell you.
Barack knows from personal experience what it means for a family when women aren’t treated fairly in the workplace. And believe me, as a father of two girls -- two beautiful girls -- (applause) -- he knows what it means to want our daughters to have the same freedoms and opportunities as our sons.
And that is why the very first bill he signed in law as President was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work. (Applause.) And that is why he will always, always fight to ensure that we as women can make our own decisions about our bodies and about our health care. (Applause.) That is what my husband stands for.
So we have 15 days to go -- 15. We’ve got a couple of weeks. And I know you all are going to be out there, right? (Applause.) So when you’re out there and people come up to you and ask you, well, what has this President done for our country' when you’re talking to folks who are deciding which candidate will be the best one to keep moving this country forward, here are just a few things you can just lay on them.
Start by telling them about the millions of jobs that Barack created. Tell them about all the kids in this country who can finally afford college. Tell them about the millions of lives that will be changed because of health reform. Tell them how Barack ended the war in Iraq, took out Osama bin Laden. (Applause.)
Tell them how their President has been fighting every day to make sure that veterans and military families get the benefits they have earned. (Applause.) Tell them about all of the young immigrants who will no longer have to live in fear of being deported from the only country they have ever called home. Tell them about our brave servicemembers who will never again have to lie about who they are to serve the country they love. (Applause.)
Look, I could go on and on and on, but I know it’s hot. (Laughter.) And I don’t want anybody to pass out. (Laughter and applause.) But here’s what I really want you to tell them -- I want you to tell them that their President, Barack Obama, knows the American dream because he’s lived it. (Applause.) And we have a President who is fighting every day so that every one of us in this country can have that same opportunity -- no matter who we are or what we look like or where we’re from or who we love. (Applause.)
But let’s be clear. While he is proud of everything that we have achieved together -- because we don’t get anywhere unless we’re doing it together -- my husband is nowhere near satisfied. Do you hear me?
MRS. OBAMA: Of all the people on this Earth, Barack knows that too many people are still hurting. He of all people knows that there’s plenty of work left to be done. And as President Clinton said, it is going to take a lot longer than four years to finish rebuilding an economy from the brink of collapse. (Applause.)
But here’s what I know: Thankfully, in Barack, we have a leader with a deep and unyielding faith in the American people; a leader who understands that this country was built by men and women like so many here who wake up every day, and work hard, and work hard for their families, and they do it without complaint and without regret. And as President, that’s what my husband has been fighting for. As President he has been fighting for us. And that’s why, when the stakes are so high, let me tell you, you can always trust Barack to have our backs -- always. (Applause.)
And what we have to understand, especially our young people -- over the past four years, together, slowly but surely, we have been pulling ourselves out of that deep hole that we started in. We are steadily moving this country forward and making real and important change.
So now is the time that we have to ask ourselves a very important question: Are we going to turn around, after all this work, and go back to the same policies that got us into that hole in the first place? It’s a simple question. Are we going to just sit back and watch everything that we’ve worked so hard for to just slip away? (Applause.) Or are we going to keep moving this country forward? (Applause.) What are we going to do?
MRS. OBAMA: There is no place to go but forward.
But in the end, the answer to these questions is on us. It is on each and every one of us. Because trust me, all of this hard work and progress, it is all on the line. It’s all at stake this November.
And as Barack has said, this election will be closer than the last one -- that’s the only guarantee. And it could all come down to what happens in just a few key battleground states like right here in Florida -- and you all know all about that, don’t you? (Applause.)
So to put it in some perspective, if we think back to where things were, what happened in this state in 2008, back then Barack won Florida by about 236,000 votes. But let's see what that looks like, because when you take that number and you break that down across precincts in this state, that’s just 36 votes per precinct. That’s how elections are -- 36 votes.
So that could mean just one vote in a neighborhood, you know what I'm saying? That could mean just a single vote in an apartment building -- in a dorm room, my young people. (Applause.) So if there is anyone here -- and this is true regardless of who you're going to vote for -- understand this: If there is anyone here who thinks that their voice doesn’t matter, that their vote doesn’t count, that their involvement won't make a difference, that in this complex political process that ordinary folks can't possibly make a difference -- if there is anyone here who believes that, I just want you to think about those 36 votes.
See, because we all know 36 vote -- people who didn’t vote. We all know 36 people who weren't registered, 36 people who just didn’t bother. And I want you to think about how with just a few more evenings on a phone bank -- because we only have a few more evenings left; just a couple of more weekends are left -- just a couple of more hours knocking on some doors, talking to your neighbors, just a few of you here -- shoot, look at this room. This whole room, if everyone focuses, could swing an entire precinct for Barack Obama. (Applause.)
And if we win enough precincts, we will win this state. And if we win this state, we'll be well on our way to putting Barack back in the White House for four more years. (Applause.) Four more years.
So here's the plan -- we've got a plan. Listen up -- it's a secret plan. (Laughter.) So I want all the press to cover your ears for a second while we talk quietly. (Laughter.)
But for the next 15 days, we're going to need you to work like you've never worked before. I mean, take this very seriously. Sign up with one of our volunteers if you're not already volunteering. It's just two more weeks. I don’t care what's going on, everybody has got some time between now and Election Day.
Sign up to make phone calls, to knock on doors. But most importantly -- see, and this is the power that we all have -- talk to everyone you know -- your neighbors, your friends, that cousin you haven’t seen in a while, that student sitting next to you in class -- you know he's not voting. Take him by the arm, shake him a little bit and help him get to the polls. (Laughter.)
But tell them what's at stake. Give them the information that they may not have, especially for our young people. I am talking to our young people so much because this isn't about this election, this is about the rest of your lives and how you -- what you have to do forever. (Applause.)
And I can't tell you how many people that I've met who told me, you know, my parents and grandparents weren't going to vote for Barack in 2008, but because I spent some time really sitting down with them and explaining what this election means to my future, they voted for Barack. I can't tell you how many young people.
And I want you all to know that that is the power that you have, and you always have. Because your parents and grandparents love you; sometimes they get focused on what they need, but if they understand what kind of America you all are trying to build, and they hear it from you, and they hear it with passion, and they hear -- understand your positions and your fears and your worries about the future, that makes all the difference in the world.
So don’t ever underestimate the power of your voice in your own house, in your own family. And once you've done all this convincing that you're going to do -- (laughter) -- then you can tell people that they don’t have to wait until November the 6th to cast their ballots.
Look, I voted early last week by mail. I did it. (Applause.) And if you were curious, I voted for Barack Obama. (Applause.) Yes, I did. There was no hesitation. I read his record, I took an objective look, and I said, this is the only one who can move this country forward -- Barack Obama. (Applause.) Seems pretty clear to me.
But one of the other reasons why I voted early, in addition to being so excited about impacting the future of my country --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: It's to help others.
MRS. OBAMA: -- is to help others. That’s exactly right. I wanted to -- I'm going to spend Election Day getting the vote out, and that’s some of what I want you all to think about.
Because if you vote early, number one, you get it out of the way. So if you wake up on Election Day and you're sick, the car broke down, there's no babysitter, somebody is throwing up, wake up with an ear infection -- this is that time of year. Your kids wake up, it's like, oh Lord, your ear hurts -- just take an Anacin. (Laughter.) Just get to school, whatever you do. We mothers understand that. (Laughter.)
So you don’t have to take it for -- you don’t have to chance it. And if you vote early, you can help someone else get to the polls, because there are going to be a lot of first-time voters. And sometimes voting seems intimidating, right? Sometimes new voters just need someone they know just to go along and make sure that they understand the process -- you could be that person for someone in your lives.
So think about it -- in fact, in Florida, you all can vote now, before early voting begins here. You can vote soon. Here in Broward County, just call your county Supervisor of Elections. Ask for an absentee ballot -- because you can vote absentee now -- and then go pick it up, fill it out, turn it in; you can turn it in on the spot, I understand. But we want as many people as possible to vote now.
In addition, starting this Saturday, October the 27th through November the 3rd, you can vote early at your Supervisor of Elections office; at many libraries and city halls. And if you need more information, just go to vote.BarackObama.com, and that’s another website you can get every -- all the information. If you didn’t remember or write down anything I said, you can go to that website and it will tell you everything you have to know to make your voices heard on Election Day. Do you hear me?
MRS. OBAMA: That’s our plan! (Applause.)
So I'm not going to kid you, this journey, it's going to be hard, and these next 15 days, they're going to feel long. You hear me?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: This is the choir!
MRS. OBAMA: This is the choir? (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
MRS. OBAMA: Four more years. (Applause.) Just stay focused on that.
But there are going to be ups and downs. There will be ups and downs for the next 15 days. But when you start to get tired -- and I know you will -- when you start thinking about taking a day off -- and I know you will -- I just want you to remember that what you do for the next 15 days will absolutely make the difference between waking up the day after Election Day and asking ourselves "Could we have done more?", or feeling the promise of four more years.
So from now until Election Day, we need you to keep working, and struggling, and pushing. See, because that’s how change always happens in this country. I mean, I am saying this everywhere I go, and I'm talking to that next generation. See, because life throws you some stuff, right? We have all experienced what life does to you -- all of us.
But we know from our history -- the history of this great country -- that change is hard, and it requires a level of patience and tenacity -- do you hear me, young people? When you run against a roadblock, you've got to keep pushing forward. Because we know that when we hit those roadblocks, if we keep showing up -- how many times have you heard somebody in your life just -- half of it is just showing up -- and you keep fighting the good fight, if we keep doing what we know in our hearts is the right thing to do, then know that eventually we get there. I am living proof of that. (Applause.)
So I don’t want anybody here to let anybody talk down your dreams or your aspirations. There are always doubters and naysayers, and folks standing in the way -- don’t ever let them do that. Don’t let anyone talk down our country or this country's future. (Applause.)
Because you all have every reason to be optimistic about what lies ahead, because here in America, we always move forward. We always make progress. We always have. And in the end, see, that’s what this election is about. That’s what elections are always about -- don’t let anybody tell you differently. Elections are always about hope -- do you hear me? Elections are always about hope. (Applause.)
The kind of hope that I saw on my father's beaming face as he watched me walk across that stage to get the college diploma that he helped pay for. (Applause.) The hope that Barack’s grandmother saw as she cast her ballot for the grandson she loved and raised -- that’s the kind of hope I'm talking about. (Applause.) The hope that all of those women and men in our lives who worked that extra shift for us, who saved and sacrificed and prayed so that we could stand here and be something more. The hope that so many of us feel when we look into the eyes of our kids and our grandkids, and all of these young people -- that’s the kind of hope that I'm talking about
And that is why we are all here today -- because we want to give all of our children a foundation for their dreams -- do you know what I'm saying? (Applause.) We want to give all of our kids opportunities worthy of their promise, because all of our kids are worthy, and we know that. I don’t care what party you belong to, we want to give our children that sense of limitless possibility; that belief that here in America, the greatest country on the planet, there is always something better out there if you’re willing to work for it.
So what I tell myself now is we will not turn back now. Not now. We have come so far, but we've got so much more work to do.
So my last question is: Are you in? (Applause.) Are you ready for this? Can you get this done? Can you roll up your sleeves and make it happen? (Applause.) 15 more days. We need you to work like never before.
Thank you guys. Love you. God bless. (Applause.)
3:45 P.M. EDT