Remarks by the First Lady at a Grassroots Campaign Event with Democratic Candidate for Governor Gina Raimondo -- Providence, Rhode Island
Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex
Providence, Rhode Island
1:16 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: You guys ready for this? (Applause.) I am so ready for this. I am thrilled to be here to support our friend, the next Governor of Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo. (Applause.) I’m going to join in.
I want to start by thanking a few of the folks who are here -- first of all, Gina, for her wonderful introduction. She is going to be a phenomenal Governor. (Applause.) I also want to thank some of the other outstanding Rhode Island leaders we have here today -- Senator Reed, Senator Whitehouse. We have Congressman Langevin is here. We have Congressman Cicilline is here. I got to take a picture with them -- they’re very good. They’re excited. (Laughter.) You want more pictures? I’m coming down after this. (Applause.) But I’ve got to make sure you all are fired up and ready for this before that.
But we also have our next Mayor of Providence, Jorge Elorza, who is here. (Applause.) So we’ve got a lot of wonderful leaders here who are doing a great job. We have to support them, and that’s one of the reason why I’m here.
Let me start by thanking all of you for joining us today. I am grateful to all of you. And I know that, like me, you all are fired up and ready to go. (Applause.) You have to be. I know that, like me, you are here today for one simple reason: you’re here because you know that this election is not about the folks who are up on this stage. It’s not about me, it’s about you. It’s about what’s going on in your lives. It’s about what’s happening in your families. It’s about what your communities look and feel like.
You’re here because when you kiss your kids goodbye each morning, I know that you’re worried about the school they’re going to. You’re wondering whether they’re learning what they need to learn, getting the information, the love, the care, the feeding they need to go to college, to one day get a good job so they can support their families.
You’re here because you believe that when you’re working your heart out, putting in 40 or 50 hours a week at your job, you should be able to pay your bills, put some money away, give your family a decent life. This is what Gina was talking about. These were the families we were raised in -- middle-class families who could build a life on a good job.
You’re here because you know that things are starting to get better across the country. You’ve heard some of the numbers. In this nation, under this President, our businesses have created more than 10 million new jobs since 2010. This is the longest uninterrupted run of private sector job growth in our nation’s history. (Applause.) You know that the national unemployment rate dropped from a peak of 10 percent back in 2009 to 5.9 percent today. (Applause.) But you also know that you want to see more of those jobs here in Rhode Island. (Applause.) You know that you want to see more of that economic development happening in your communities.
But most of all, you’re here because you know that this election will determine what happens on every single one of these issues -- this election. Because when it comes to your schools, your kids, your jobs, your communities, so many of those decisions are made by your Governor. And that is why we are all here today -- because we need to get Gina Raimondo in. Because you know that on these issues, Gina understands. She gets it.
You heard her story. She’s grown up a lot like me, coming from a hardworking family. Unfortunately, like me and Barack, she got through college and law school with a whole lot of debt. (Laughter.) But that shows you that Gina knows what it means to work for what you want in life. Things aren’t handed to you. There’s a cost to making your way.
I also know that Gina has two wonderful kids in public school. So she knows how important it is to invest in education for all of our kids -- (applause) -- to get our kids on track to a successful life. Education is key. There is -- for all the young people here, there is nothing more important than getting your education. And that’s why it’s up to leaders like Gina to make sure that we keep investing in our young people. (Applause.)
And Gina has had just one mission: to make life better for middle-class families here in this state. That is what has driven her every single day. And that will be her mission as Governor.
So you all know who Gina is. And I want you to remember that over these next few days. You know what she stands for. And if you’re looking for someone you can count on, someone who is going to do things for you and your families -- things like raising the minimum wage, things like rebuilding your schools, ensuring that our kids keep getting the education they need, someone who is going to create good jobs that pay a decent wage here in this state -- then you need to do everything in your power to elect Gina Raimondo as your Governor. You’ve got to get it done, Rhode Island. (Applause.)
We can do this. We can do this. And let me tell you something -- this won’t be easy. Very few things that you will do in life -- for our young people -- will be easy. Trust us. (Applause.) But we can still do this.
Sometimes folks thinks there’s too much money in politics, too much special-interest influence in politics. But what I want to remind all of you here is they had plenty of money and plenty of influence back in 2008 and 2012, and Barack Obama still won those elections. (Applause.) And I just want to remind you why he won: He won those elections because we showed up and we voted. That, in the end, is the key. (Applause.)
See, at the end of the day, the folks running those special interests groups, the folks pouring millions of dollars into elections -- here’s the thing -- they each just have one vote, and so do each of us. And those votes are what decide elections in the United States of America. That’s what wins elections. I want you all to remember that. (Applause.)
And make no mistake about it, every single one of those votes matters. Because this election is going to be incredibly close -- do you hear me -- incredibly close. How close? Well, let me -- just think of the Governor’s race, the last Governor’s race in 2010. The outcome of that election was decided by about 4,300 votes. So if about 4,300 folks had voted the other way, you would have a different Governor. And when you break that number down, that is just 10 votes per precinct. I want you to take that in -- 10 votes per precinct decides who is Governor of your state.
So that’s why we can’t afford to miss out on a single vote in this election -- not one single vote. I know that everybody here knows 10 people who didn’t vote, 10 people who just missed it, 10 people who didn’t register, 10 young people who didn’t think it mattered, 10 people who didn’t vote because it rained. And that decided who your Governor will be -- 10 votes. Look around this room. This room alone can decide this election if everybody is engaged and focused.
So right now, today, I want everyone in here to make a plan to vote. Make a plan. Decide when you’re going to do it, write down where you need to do it, and then make a commitment to make it happen. That means everybody -- mom who is babysitting on Election Day. Are you voting before work, after work; do you need a ride, do you need somebody in your neighborhood to give you a ride -- those are the kind of plans that have to happen.
And then, between now and November 4th, I want you to spend every free minute that you have knocking on doors and making phone calls for Gina -- really. The work on the ground really matters. (Applause.) Turnout really, absolutely matters. Sign up with one of the folks in campaign t-shirts that are here -- hopefully they’re here. Sign up with them -- I see some hands in the back. And think about committing to at least three volunteerships this weekend. Think about the limited amount of time that could turn this election around.
And as you think about whether you have time to volunteer, think about those 10 votes. As you make those calls, think about the 10 people that you can convince to register and vote. Think of the 10 people you know in your own family you can get to vote. That’s the kind of work that’s going to make the difference in a very tight, very close election.
And then, after you spend these last few days knocking on doors and calling your heart out, on November 4th, you’ve got to make sure to get out yourself and get everyone you know out to the polls. And remember, voting couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is show up.
So don’t be left out. Your friends are going to be there, your neighbors are going to be there. You’re going to be joining millions of folks across this country who are making their voices heard on the issues they care about. And all those folks are doing this because they know that this election matters. They know that’s -- all the important issues that are at stake on November 4th.
Because what I want you all to remember is that if we stay home on Election Day, what we’re doing is just letting other folks decide the outcome for us. And if we do that, we know exactly what will happen. We will see less support for our kids’ schools. We will see more folks trying to interfere in women’s private decisions about our bodies and our health care. We’ll see more special breaks for those at the top instead of hardworking folks.
So, Rhode Island, I want to be clear: If you believe that folks who are working full-time shouldn’t have to live in poverty in the wealthiest nation on the planet; if you think every community in this state should have good jobs, jobs you can raise a family on; if you think that every child in Rhode Island should have the education they need from preschool to college to fulfill every last bit of their God-given potential, then you need to get everyone you know to vote for Gina Raimondo for Governor. You’ve got to get -- to do this. (Applause.)
Because in the end, that’s really what’s at stake in this election. I want you to remember, we’re fighting for the kind of world we want to leave for our kids and our grandkids. This is for them. Those kids are counting on us to stand up for them. And we know thousands of these kids. They’re here. They’re everywhere. (Applause.) I see them everywhere I go.
There’s a young women who is one of my mentees, Rashema Melson, who lives in D.C. Rashema’s father was murdered when she was a baby, and for years her family was homeless. And there were days when she didn’t even have clean clothes to wear to school.
But let me tell you, Rashema still showed up every morning to class. She threw herself into her schoolwork. She often had to wake up in the middle of the night to do her homework because that’s the only time it was quiet in the homeless shelter where she and her family lived. But by senior year, Rashema had earned herself a 4.0 GPA. (Applause.) This young lady graduated as the valedictorian of her class, and she, right now, is on a full scholarship to Georgetown University. (Applause.)
See, and I tell that story because as a I travel across the country, I meet so many kids just like Rashema -- kids who are working two, three jobs to save up for college. Kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English, and are fighting so hard to make it in this country. Kids who are out there on their own, waking up early, staying up late, studying as hard as they can because they know that’s the only way out.
These kids have every reason to give up, but they are so hungry to succeed. They are so desperate to lift themselves up. And that’s why we’re here. That’s why we’re here -- because those kids never give up, and neither can we. (Applause.) That’s what motivates me and your President every single day -- it’s our young people.
So between now and November 4th, Rhode Island, we need to be energized for them. We need to be inspired for our children. 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 if we do all of that, we can do this. If we keep stepping up and bringing others along the way, then I know that we can keep on making that change we believe in. I know we can elect Gina Raimondo as Governor. And I know that, together, we can build a future worthy of all of our children.
Thank you guys. Get it done. Get to the polls. Stay fired up, ready to go. Make it happen, Rhode Island. We’re counting on you. God bless. (Applause.)
1:30 P.M. EDT