Remarks by the First Lady at a Campaign Event
6:19 P.M. EST
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, my goodness! (Applause.) Wow! (Applause.) Thank you so much. Wow, Florida! Orlando, make it happen. (Applause.)
Well, before I get started -- because you all are really pumped up -- but I want to take a moment to make sure that we recognize those communities that have been affected by the storm last week. And I know you all in Florida know a little bit about what happens to communities when weather happens, so we want to make sure that even in all this excitement, all that’s going on, that we remember to keep those affected by the storm in our hearts and our prayers.
And over this past week, as you know, Barack has been in constant contact with the governors and mayors and our extraordinary first responders, and working tirelessly to ensure that everyone there gets the support and resources that they need. But as you all know here in this state, when tragedy happens, when crisis hits, this is when we all come together as one American family and we do whatever it takes to help our fellow citizens. (Applause.)
So with that, I want to start by thanking Shari. Didn’t she do a great job? (Applause.) She pretty much said everything that I would say, so I guess I can say good night? No, no.
MRS. OBAMA: But she is amazing, and we are just truly impressed with her and so many others -- so many of you who have spent so much time on this campaign and supporting us over these last four years. So let’s give Shari a round of applause. (Applause.)
And I also want to recognize a family that is so dead to my heart -- Senator Nelson, his wife Grace. (Applause.) They are here. They are always here for us. They have just been tremendous supporters, not just in friendship but in prayer. And we are so grateful. I want to thank your Mayor, who is here. He has always been on the case. We are so grateful for his leadership and service. And of course, I want to thank the gorgeous, the incomparable Ricky Martin. (Applause.) Oh, yes.
See, it has just been overwhelming to see all the people from all different kinds of backgrounds -- not just the folks we see on television who take time out of their busy days, but everyone who is making it a point to get their voices out there on this.
So I particularly want to thank all of you for being here tonight. Thank you, guys. Thank you so much. (Applause.) So I’m glad you all are fired up and ready to go, because I’m feeling pretty fired up and ready to go myself. (Applause.) Because tomorrow -- tomorrow! -- the sun will come up, and we will have an opportunity to reelect a decent, honest man -- (applause) -- a man whose courage and integrity we have seen every day for the last four years, a man that I have known and loved for 23 years -- my husband, our President, Barack Obama. We are going to get this done. We are going to get this done! (Applause.)
And let me just talk -- this is my last campaign stop. This is it. (Applause.) I should say my solo stop. I’m flying to Des Moines; in a couple of hours I’m going to meet Barack and we’re doing our final rally. But this is my final solo stop. (Applause.) And I’m glad to be here with you all. I really am. (Applause.) Because I get to do something that I don’t get to do often to his face. (Laughter.) I get to talk about the man that I’ve loved for all these years -- my husband. And let me tell you what made me fall in love with him all those years ago -- it was his character. Yes, he’s smart and handsome, charming, all that stuff. (Applause.) But why I am such a passionate supporter of this President is because of his compassion, his conviction, his commitment to helping others. And let me tell you, he has always been that man. Before anybody knew who Barack Obama was, he was finding ways to help the most people, and I love him for that.
I also loved that Barack was also so devoted to his family, especially the women in his life. (Applause.) That meant a great deal. I saw the respect he had for his mother. I saw how proud he was that she was able to put herself through school and still support him and his sister as a single mom. I definitely saw the tenderness that he felt for his grandmother and how grateful he was that long after she should have retired, she was still waking up every morning and catching a bus to her job at the bank. And he watched as she was passed over for promotions simply because she was a woman, but he also saw how she kept on getting up, just like so many people in our lives -- kept getting up, doing that same job year after year without complaint or regret.
See, and the thing is with Barack, I found a real connection because in his life story, I saw so much of my own. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, I watched my father make that same uncomplaining journey every day to his job at the city water plant. My father had MS and he walked with crutches. It was a struggle for him to get anywhere. But he carried himself with that same dignity, that same pride in being able to provide for his family, that same hope that his kids would one day have opportunities he never dreamed of.
And the thing is, like so many families in this country, so many families here, our families just weren’t asking for much. They didn’t want much. And let me tell you, they did not begrudge anyone else’s success. They didn’t mind if others had much more -- in fact, they admired it. That’s why they pushed us to be better. But they simply believed in that fundamental American promise that even if you don’t start out with much, if you work hard, if you do what you’re supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids. (Applause.)
And they also believed that when you’ve worked hard -- young people out there -- when you’ve done well, when you’ve finally walked through that doorway of opportunity, you don’t slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed. (Applause.)
That is how Barack and I, and I know so many of you, were raised. And more than anything else, that’s what this election is all about. It’s about choices -- a choice about our values, our hopes, and our aspirations. It’s a choice about the America we want to leave for our kids and our grandkids.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!
MRS. OBAMA: Love you more. Love you so much. (Applause.)
But we are building an America together. And what does that America look like? What do we believe? We believe in an America where every child -- do you hear me? Every child -- should have access to good schools that push them, and inspire them, and prepare them for jobs of the future -- every child. (Applause.) We believe in an America where no one goes broke or loses their home because someone gets sick or loses their job. Not in this America. (Applause.) We believe in an America where everyone -- where we all understand that none of us gets where we are on our own, that we treat everyone with dignity and respect -- from the teachers who inspire us to the janitors who keep our schools clean. Everyone. (Applause.)
In this America that we’re building together, we believe that the truth matters -- (applause) -- and you don’t take shortcuts; you don’t game the system. And finally, we believe in keeping our priorities straight. Because each and every one of us knows good and well that cutting Sesame Street is no way to balance our budget. (Applause.) We know better than that. Instead, we know we need to cut wasteful spending, but we also have to make smart investments in things like education and infrastructure for an economy built to last.
And that's what my husband stands for. (Applause.) That’s the country he’s been working to build for four years. (Applause.) And we’re all working to build it together. And let me tell you, since the day he took office, on issue after issue, crisis after crisis -- believe me, I’ve been there -- that is what we’ve seen in our President.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We’ve watched him!
MRS. OBAMA: We’ve watched him. We saw this. (Applause.)
I mean, think back to when Barack first took office. Where was this economy? It was on the brink of collapse. Everybody knows that. Newspapers were using words like “meltdown,” “calamity,” declaring “Wall Street Implodes” -- I was there -- “Economy in Shock.” What was going on? The auto industry was in crisis. This economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month, and a lot of folks were wondering whether we were headed for another Great Depression. Do you hear me? That’s what people were worried about.
And that is what Barack faced on day one as President of the United States. But let me tell you, instead of pointing fingers, instead of placing blame, our President got to work. (Applause.) He got to work! See, because he was thinking about folks like my dad and like his grandmother.
And that’s why he cut taxes for small businesses and working families, because we have a President, fortunately, who understands that teachers and firefighters shouldn’t 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 know who I’m talking about? -- (applause) -- with more than a million -- do you hear me, a million -- jobs that would have been lost, see, Barack had the backs of the American workers. And that’s why, today, the American auto industry is back on its feet again. (Applause.)
And while we have more work to do to completely rebuild our economy, let me tell you, there are more and more signs -- clear signs -- every day that we are on the road to recovery. Let me tell you about some of them. Exports have grown by 45 percent; companies hired more workers in October than in any time in the last eight months; under this President -- the majority of his term -- we have had 32 straight months of private sector job growth -- nearly five and a half million new jobs created by this President under this administration. That’s how we know we’re moving in the right direction. (Applause.)
And when it comes to giving our young people the education they deserve -- because there are so many -- Barack knows that like me and like so many of you, we never could have gone to college without financial aid -- never. (Applause.) You look at me -- there is no way we would be here without financial aid. Our parents couldn’t write checks for us to go to college. (Applause.) That was not a possibility.
So understand that when it comes to student debt, Barack and I, we've been there. And that’s why Barack doubled funding for Pell grants, fought hard to keep interest rates down for student loans -- because we have a President who understands how important it is for all of our young people -- regardless of how much money their parents make -- for them to be able to get a college education without a mountain of debt. He knows how important that is.
And finally, when it comes to understanding the lives of women -- (applause) -- let me tell you, Barack will always have our backs. (Applause.) See, because Barack knows from personal experience what it means for a family when women aren’t treated fairly in the workplace. And that is why the very first bill he signed as President -- the first thing he did -- was sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to make sure women get equal pay for equal work -- (applause) -- first thing he did. And that is why he will always, always fight to ensure that we as women can make our own decisions about our bodies and our health care. (Applause.) Always.
And as Shari said, we cannot forget about health reform, the historic legislation that he passed. And because of that reform, insurance companies can no longer charge women more than men for the same coverage. (Applause.) They can't discriminate against us for preexisting conditions like asthma, diabetes. Our seniors on Medicare are paying hundreds less for their prescription drugs. Our kids can stay on our insurance until they're 26 years old. (Applause.)
And here is one that really gets me -- because this is breaking the backs of so many families in this country -- if you get a life-threatening illness and you need really expensive treatment, no longer can your insurance company 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.) No more. (Applause.)
So this is the last day before the election. The last -- we've got one more day. And I know if you haven't voted -- you will be voting, but you're also going to be out there talking to folks, helping them as they're trying to figure out which of these candidates will be the best to move this country forward for four more years. (Applause.) Absolutely.
And when you're out there talking to people, I want you to tell folks a few things. In addition to telling them about what Barack has done for our economy, our health care, our education, I want you to tell them -- remind them that this is the President that ended the war in Iraq. (Applause.) Remind them that this is the President working with our troops who took out Osama bin Laden. (Applause.) You tell them that this is the President, the administration that has fought -- every day so that our veterans and military families can have the benefits they have earned. (Applause.)
I want you to tell them about all the young immigrants in this country who will never again have to live in fear of being deported from the only country they have ever called home. (Applause.) And tell them about our brave servicemembers who will never again have to lie about who they are to serve the country they love. (Applause.)
I could go on and on and on, but we don’t have that much time. We've got to get to work. So you can also send them to our website: barackobama.com/plans. We've got a website too. (Laughter.) And there, in addition to hearing all the things he's done, they can learn about what Barack is going to do to create more jobs, to reduce our deficit in a balanced way -- and so much more.
But here’s the thing --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
MRS. OBAMA: Responsible deficit reduction. But here's the thing I really want people to know about my husband, and what I think is just basically important for the leader of the free world -- I want you to tell them that Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it. (Applause.) He has lived it. And he has been fighting every day so that every one of us in this country can have that same opportunity no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love. (Applause.)
But let's be clear -- while Barack is very proud of all that we have done together -- because understand that this President knows that we do this together --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
MRS. OBAMA: -- my husband -- you should have been on the roll with me. (Laughter.) (Inaudible.)
But let me tell you something -- your President is nowhere near satisfied. Barack of all people on this planet knows that there are too many people still hurting. 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.) People know that.
But here's the thing -- over these past four years -- know this -- together -- and it's been beautiful to watch -- together, slowly but surely, we have been pulling ourselves out of that hole that we started in. We have been moving forward. (Applause.) We've been making real and meaningful change -- do you hear me -- change that has meant something in people's lives. (Applause.)
So when you're out there over this last day, and you ask people what's on their minds, I want you to ask them, are we going to turn around and go back to the same policies that got us into this hole in the first place?
MRS. OBAMA: Are we going to just to sit back and watch everything we’ve worked for and fought for to just slip away.
MRS. OBAMA: Or are we going to get this country moving forward?
MRS. OBAMA: What are we going to do? We need to keep moving forward for our kids. We need to keep moving forward -- forward! (Applause.) There is no other choice but forward. Four more years! You guys, you tell them. (Applause.)
But in the end -- here's the thing --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Michelle! (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: You guys, I love you all. But here’s the thing -- in the end, this is where we need to focus, because the answers to these questions is now on us. It truly is. It's on all of us. Because, yes, all the progress that we've made, all of it's at stake tomorrow. It's all on the line.
And as Barack has said, this election will be even closer than the last one -- that is the only guarantee. So just know that. And it will all come down to what happens in a few key battleground states like right here in Florida, this state. (Applause.) You all have the power.
And you know -- as Shari said -- you know something about close elections here in Florida. Think back to 2008 -- and I say this at -- all over the country, because these battleground numbers are the same -- we won Florida by about 236,000 votes. And while that might sound like a lot to some, if you break that number down across precincts, that is just 36 votes per precinct. That is the margin of victory. In your neighborhood, 76 people -- think about that -- 76 more people voting in that location will determine the direction of the country for the next four, eight, twelve years, let me tell you.
And that could mean just one vote in a neighborhood could make the difference. That could be just one vote in your apartment building, just one vote on a college campus. So if there is anyone here, or anyone that you know that might be thinking that their vote doesn’t matter, that might be thinking that their involvement doesn’t count, that in this complex political process that ordinary people can't possibly make a difference, I want you to think about those 36 votes. Keep that in your mind tomorrow.
All day tomorrow I want you to think about how with just a few more calls to just a few more friends, with just a few more -- getting a few more people to the polls, just a few of you right here in this park today can swing an entire precinct for Barack Obama. (Applause.)
And when we win enough precincts, we will win this state. And when 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! We can make it happen right here in Orlando. You can do this! You can do it right here. (Applause.)
So between now and tomorrow, I want you to talk to everyone you know -- your friends, your neighbors, that cousin you haven't seen in a while. (Laughter.) You know the one. You can still send them to our website -- vote.barackobama.com, if people still need information on what they need to do to cast their ballot, where they need to go. And then, make sure they get to the polls tomorrow.
And remember, as long as you're in line when the polls close, you can still vote. (Applause.) So understand -- early voting. Don’t let any of the lines deter you. And the polls close at 7:00 p.m., so be sure to stay in line and make your voices heard. It is worth the wait. It's well worth the wait. (Applause.)
Now, make no mistake about it -- what we -- between now and tomorrow night will absolutely make the difference between waking up on Wednesday and asking ourselves, “Gosh, could I have done more?”, or feeling the promise of four more years.
So from now until the polls close, we need every one of you to work like you've never before. Because here is the thing -- and this is something that I want to direct our young people, because it's not just about this election, it's about life. Because that kind of struggle and -- that is how change always happens in this country.
We know from our history that change is hard. Shoot, life is hard. (Applause.) And it requires a certain level of patience and tenacity. We've seen this in our President -- just staying focused and calm and poised. That’s a lesson for all of us.
Because we know that if we keep showing up, if we keep fighting that good fight and doing in our hearts what we know is right, then eventually we get there. We always do. And that is why we have every reason to be optimistic about this country's future -- because we know that here in America, we always move forward. We always make progress. We never go backwards.
And in the end that’s what this is about. That’s what elections are always about. Don’t let anybody ever tell you differently. Elections are always about hope. (Applause.)
What kind of hope am I talking about? I’m talking about the hope that I saw on my father’s face as I crossed that stage to get my college diploma -- the diploma that he took out loans to help me get. I'm talking about the hope that Barack’s grandmother felt as she cast her ballot for the grandson she loved and raised -- it's that kind of hope. The hope of all those men and women in our lives -- we all have them -- those who worked that extra shift for us, those who saved and sacrificed and prayed so that we could be here, so that we could be something just a little bit more. We stand on their shoulders. The hope of -- so many of us feel when we look into the eyes of our kids and grandkids. I never forget that.
That’s why I spend so much time with kids -- because that is why we're here. Because we want to give all of our kids a foundation for their dreams. (Applause.) We want to give all of our children opportunities worthy of their promise. Because we know good and well -- I don’t care where we're from, what your party is -- all of our kids are worthy. Every single child in this country is worthy. And we want to give those kids that sense of limitless possibility -- that belief that here in America, the greatest country on the planet, we want them to know that there is always something better out there if you’re willing to work for it. (Applause.)
So that is what I tell myself every day -- and I am always so proud to be your First Lady. I tell myself that we cannot turn back now. We simply cannot. We will not turn back now, because we have come so far, but for all of these kids, we have so much more to do.
So on this last day, I just have one question: Are you ready for this? (Applause.) Are you fired up? Are you ready to roll up your sleeves for the next 25 -- 48 hours -- get to the polls, help people get to the polls? Because we can make this happen.
We love you all so much. Thank God. God bless you all. Let's make this happen.
6:45 P.M. EST