Remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama at Martha Coakley for Governor Rally
2:14 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you so much. Oh my goodness! Yes, we will! We’ve got to get this done! Oh my goodness, I’m in Massachusetts! (Applause.) And I am thrilled to be here today. You guys, rest yourselves, because I want you ready to work. (Laughter.) My goodness, let me start by thanking our friend, the next governor of Massachusetts, Martha Coakley! Yes! (Applause.)
Now, I think we can all agree that no one in this race will fight harder for families here in this state than Martha Coakley. Martha has been a tireless advocate for survivors of violence and abuse. She has stood up time and again to protect contraceptive coverage because she believes that women should make their own health care decisions. (Applause.) She led the fight to raise the minimum wage, and in this campaign, she’s leading the charge for earned sick time for working families. (Applause.)
Martha understands how important this issue is, especially for working mothers, and she believes that no one should ever have to choose between keeping their job and caring for a sick child -- not in America. So if you all want a governor who will stand up to powerful interests, if you want a governor who is truly on your side, then you need to elect Martha Coakley on November the 4th. You need to get that done. (Applause.)
And when you elect Martha as governor, she will have an extraordinary partner in Steve Kerrigan, our next Lieutenant Governor –- and we are so thrilled that he is here today. (Applause.) I’m so proud of you, Steve.
I’d also like to take a moment to recognize a few other of your terrific leaders here. We’ve got Governor Patrick. (Applause.) Yes, indeed. Senator Markey was here, he had to leave, and of course, Mayor Walsh is here as well. (Applause.) And I want to thank them all for their tremendous leadership and their service, and for being here with me today. Thank you, guys.
I also want to recognize Seth Moulton. (Applause.) And let me tell you about Seth, because I know you know this: Seth is a veteran who has served this country with distinction. He’s got a background in business and he knows how to create jobs here in this state. And I know that he is going to be an outstanding congressman for the people of the 6th district, so let’s vote for Seth along with Martha and Steve on November 4th. (Applause.)
And finally, I want to thank all of you, really, for being here today, for being involved, for caring enough about your communities to be here. And I see so many folks here -- I see a lot of new friends but I see some old folks who have been with us from the very beginning, back when we were talking about hope and change out in Iowa and New Hampshire. Ya’ll were there, many of you were there, and we were getting all fired up and ready to go. (Applause.) You remember that? (Applause.)
And so many of you were with us when Barack first took office. (Applause.) Yes, indeed. And that’s when he got a good look at the mess he’d been handed, and wondered what on Earth he had gotten himself into. (Laughter.)
Now, let’s just go back for a moment, because I don’t know about you but do you remember how bad things were back then? We were in full-blown crisis mode. Our economy was literally on the brink of collapse -- Wall Street banks were folding; businesses were losing 800,000 jobs a month -- 800,000 jobs a month; folks on TV -- all the pundits were panicking about whether we were headed for another Great Depression. And that wasn’t just talk, that was actually a real possibility.
This is just some of what Barack walked into on day one as President of the United States. So let’s just get that out of our mind, because that’s my man. (Laughter and applause.) Yes, indeed. (Applause.) And it just happens to be our 22nd anniversary today. (Applause.) And this is how important these elections are to us because I might not even see him today.
AUDIENCE: Aww --
MRS. OBAMA: Because I’m on the road and he is on the road, because these elections are so important. And it’s important for everyone in this country, all over this country, to understand where we’ve come from because now, less than six years later, with my husband in office, by almost every economic measure, we are better off today than when Barack took office. (Applause.)
And here are the facts: Our businesses have created more than 10 million new jobs since 2010 -- including 236,000 jobs last month alone. This is the longest uninterrupted run of private-sector job growth in our nation’s history. Do you hear me? In our nation’s history. (Applause.) The unemployment rate has dropped from a peak of 10 percent back in 2009 to 5.9 percent today. (Applause.) And right now, there are more job openings than at any time since 2001. Do you hear me?
Last year, the number of children living in poverty decreased by 1.4 million –- the largest drop since 1966. (Applause.) And today, our high school graduation rate is at a record high. More of our young people are graduating from college than ever before. And because of the Affordable Care Act, health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in nearly 50 years, and millions more Americans finally have health insurance. (Applause.)
And then I want you to just think about how different our country looks to children growing up today. Think about how our kids take for granted that a black person or a woman can be President of the United States. (Applause.) They take for granted that their President will end hurtful policies like don’t ask, don’t tell and speak up for equality for all Americans. (Applause.)
So today, Massachusetts, when folks ask me whether I still believe everything we said about hope and change back in 2008, I tell them that I believe it more strongly than ever before, because I have seen it with my own eyes.
I’ve seen veterans finding jobs as our nation proudly supports their transition to civilian life. I’ve seen children getting better nutrition and growing up healthier. I’ve seen young people from the most underserved areas reaching higher, and going to college, and then reaching back to serve their communities. I’ve seen all this. So, yes, we still have a lot of work to do, but we have truly made so much of that change we were talking about.
But this is what I want you all to understand, particularly in this election: Barack didn’t do all of that just sitting alone in the Oval Office. No, no, he did it with the help of outstanding leaders in states all across this country –- leaders like Governor Patrick who are creating good jobs and investing in our schools. (Applause.) Leaders who are raising the minimum wage, and fighting for equal pay and earned sick leave, and supporting women’s rights to make our own decisions about our health care. (Applause.)
And that is the kind of leader Martha Coakley will be, and that’s why we need to elect her as the next Governor of Massachusetts. (Applause.) Martha -- she gets it. She understands that there is nothing we wouldn’t do for our kids -- nothing. We always put our kids’ interests first. We wake up every morning and we go to bed every night thinking and worrying about their health, their happiness, their futures.
And we deserve leaders like Martha who will do the same. We deserve leaders who believe like we do that no matter how our kids start out in life, if they’re willing to work for it, they should have every opportunity to fulfill their boundless promise. They should have every opportunity to get a good education, to build a decent life for themselves and an even better life for their kids and grandkids. That is the American Dream we all believe in -- I don’t care where you’re from. And that’s what this election here in Massachusetts is all about. That’s what we’re fighting for.
Now, it’s true that there is too much money in politics. And it’s true that special interests have too much influence. But let me tell you something: They had plenty of money and plenty of influence back in 2008 and 2012, and we still won those elections. We still won. (Applause.) And you want to know why? You want to know why we won because we showed up and we voted. We showed up. (Applause.) At the end of the day, it’s important for us to understand the folks running those special interest groups, the folks who poured millions of dollars into those elections –- they each have just one vote, and so do each of us.
And ultimately, the only thing that counts are those votes -- that’s what decides elections here in the United States of America. And that’s why Barack Obama is President right now. He is President because a whole bunch of folks who never voted before showed up to vote in 2008 and 2012. (Applause.) And you’ll remember this -- a lot of folks were shocked when Barack won. They were shocked. (Applause.) Because they were counting on folks like us to stay home. But we proved them wrong -- we proved them wrong. (Applause.) Barack won because of record numbers of women and minorities and young people showed up to vote. (Applause.) That’s why he won. That’s the power of what we can do.
But here’s the thing. Then when the midterms come along, too many of our people just tuned out –- and that’s what folks on the other side are counting on this year, because when we stay home, they win. When we stay home, they win. So they’re assuming that we won’t care. They’re hoping that we won’t be organized and energized. And only we can prove them wrong. Only we can prove them wrong.
And make no mistake about it, this race is going to be tight. We know that races like this can be won or lost by just a few thousand or even just a few hundred votes -- you hear me? And just think back to what happened in the governor’s race here in Massachusetts back in 2010. The outcome of that election was decided by about 74,000 votes. Now that might sound like a lot, but when you break that number down, that’s about 34 votes per precinct. Do you hear that -- that’s 34 people per precinct.
So together, all of you here today could swing a whole bunch of precincts for Martha Coakley if you put your minds to it. (Applause.) Just here in this room. So let’s be clear: This one is on us. It’s on us. We cannot wait around for anyone else to do this. It is on us to get people energized. It is on us to get our folks organized and out to vote on November the 4th.
So that’s where all you come in, and I know the thousands of other people who are not in this theater but you are out here. We need you out there every day. Do you hear me? This is just a few weeks now, this is a few weeks out of your life to be out there every day -- just like you did for Barack -- between now and November, knocking on doors, making calls. It’s the grassroots work, people. Knocking on doors, making calls, getting everyone you know out to vote for Martha Coakley. Remember, 34 votes per precinct. Think like that. You know 34 people who didn’t vote in the last midterms? Mm-hm. (Laughter.) Mm-hm. (Laughter.) I don’t even live here and I know 34 people who didn’t vote. (Laughter and applause.)
So you can start by going to the website -- MarthaCoakley.com -- MarthaCoakley.com -- easy. All right, older folks, if you don’t know how to do that, just find a young person because they’ve got those -- they’ve got the stuff. (Laughter.) They always have their face in the stuff. Just go to the website and you can sign up to volunteer right on the front page. Or you can just find one of the folks here with the clipboards. Clipboards, where are our clipboard people, they’re here, they’re out and about, and you can sign up right now to help get out the vote between now and November the 4th.
And then, on Election Day, when you head to the polls to vote for Martha, bring everyone you know with you because you know you’ve got to bring them. You know that. Bring folks from your family, your neighborhood, your church –- wake them up, get them out of the house, don’t leave anyone behind. That’s how we did it for Barack. And that starts with reaching out to those folks today –- tell them to mark November 4th on their calendars. Tell them that we’ve got just a month until Election Day, and we need everyone to be as passionate and as hungry for this election as we were back in 2008 and 2012.
In fact, we need to be more passionate and more hungry, because races like this governor’s race here in Massachusetts will be even harder, and even closer, than those presidential elections -- and they’re just as important. And the stakes, as Martha said, in this year’s election simply could not be higher. Because if we don’t show up at the polls this November, if we don’t elect leaders like Martha who will put people first instead of fighting for special interests, then we know exactly what will happen.
We will see more folks interfering in women’s private decisions about our health care. We’ll see more folks denying that climate change even exists. We’ll see more opposition to immigration reform and raising the minimum wage for hard-working folks.
So I want to be very clear: If you think people who work 40 or 50 hours a week shouldn’t have to live in poverty in the wealthiest nation on earth, if you don’t want women’s bosses making decisions about their birth control, and if you think women should get equal pay for equal work, if you want your kids to have quality preschool and the college education they need to fulfill every last bit of their God-given potential then you need to step up and get everyone you know out to vote this November. That is what is at stake in this election -- the kind of country we want to leave for our kids and grandkids. (Applause.)
And here’s the thing, Massachusetts: Those kids, they are counting on us to stand up for them. Our kids are counting on us. And you know these kids. There are millions of them all over this country who are counting on us. They’re kids like Lawrence Lawson. I met this young man this year. Now Lawrence’s father died when he was just eight. At the age of nine, Lawrence suffered a major seizure and had to learn to read, and walk and speak again. And when this young boy was twelve, his mother passed away, and he was passed from his aunt in Atlanta to his sister in Baltimore. But no matter where he was, Lawrence did his best in school. He joined the marching band, interned at John’s Hopkins hospital, and he graduated as the valedictorian of his high school class. (Applause.)
And then the reason why I get so emotional every time I tell stories like that is that I travel across this country, and I meet so many kids just like Lawrence. Kids who wake up early and take the long route to school to avoid the gangs. Kids who juggle afterschool jobs to support their families and stay up late to get their homework done. Kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English, but who are fighting every day to realize their dream of a better life. (Applause.)
These kids have every reason to give up, but they don’t, because they are so hungry to succeed. They are so desperate to lift themselves up. And if you didn’t have a good enough reason to get on it on this election, then just think of those kids -- because that’s why we’re here today. Because those kids never give up, and neither can we.
So between now and November, we need to be energized for them. We need to be inspired for them. We need to pour everything we have into this election so that they can have the opportunities they need to build the futures they deserve.
And here’s the beauty of it: I’ve seen it. If we do that, if we all work together, if we all keep stepping up and bringing others along with us, and we just vote, then I know that we can keep on making that change we believe in. I know we can elect Martha Coakley as governor of Massachusetts. And I know that together, we can build a future worthy of all our children.
Thank you all so much, God bless. Let’s get it done. (Applause.)
2:35 P.M. EDT