Remarks by the First Lady at a Grassroots Campaign Event with Democratic Candidate for Governor Dan Malloy -- New Haven, Connecticut
Wilbur High School
New Haven, Connecticut
3:54 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Yes! (Applause.) Thanks so much, everyone. This is so exciting. I am beyond thrilled -- hi, you guys. (Applause.) We’re going to get this done.
I am beyond thrilled to be here to support our friend, your outstanding Governor, Dan Malloy. (Applause.) That’s why I’m here. I’m here because of your Governor. He’s done such an amazing job, and I want to start by thanking him for that wonderfully generous introduction.
But I also want to thank a few other of your outstanding Connecticut leaders who we have here today. We’ve got Lieutenant Governor Wyman here, obviously. We’re grateful for her service. (Applause.) We’ve got Senator Blumenthal, Senator Murphy here. (Applause.) We have Congresswoman DeLauro, who is here, your champion. (Applause.) And of course, your Mayor, Mayor Harp is here, as well. (Applause.) So I’m grateful to all of them for their leadership, for their service, for the work that they’re doing on behalf of this Governor. We’re going to get this done.
But most of all, I want to thank all of you. (Applause.) Yes! Just like your Governor said, it’s because of you that we’re here. And like me, you all are fired up and ready to go. There was an overflow crowd that I talked to, they are fired up and ready to go. And like me, you all are here today for one simple reason: You’re here because you know that this election isn’t about who is up here on this stage. This is not about me. It’s not about Barack. It’s about you. It’s about what is going on in your lives, what’s going on in your families, your communities.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: -- and I am a DREAMer!
MRS. OBAMA: And we love you, babe. (Laughter.) We do.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
MRS. OBAMA: Absolutely. We have so many issues --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
MRS. OBAMA: -- absolutely, honey. (Applause.) I hear you, babe. I hear you, sweetie. Okay, I’m going to wait and let you -- I will wait and let you finish. I’m going to wait and let you finish, babe. I hear every word you’re saying.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
MRS. OBAMA: I hear you, babe. No, no, understand this -- these -- there is passion here. But, see, what we have to do is turn this passion into work. (Applause.) Because what I know is that everyone has an issue that is near and dear to them. I know that when you kiss your kids goodbye -- everyone here who has a child, when you send them off, you want to make sure you send them to good schools with good teachers who will push them, who will ensure they have the love and support they need to be on track to go to college, to get a good job, to achieve. (Applause.)
You’re here because you don’t ever want to be scared walking around in your own neighborhood. (Applause.) You believe that no child should ever feel afraid walking into their classroom. (Applause.) There are many issues of passion here. That’s why elections are important.
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, you should be able to put some money away. (Applause.)
See, I know this because this was my father. He was a working-class guy. He was able to raise a family, send us to college on his salary. That is the American Dream we’re talking about. (Applause.) That’s why we’re here.
You’re here because you know that things are starting to get better because of your President -- (applause) -- because of leaders like Governor Malloy. (Applause.) But let me just share some of the numbers with you. 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.) The national unemployment rate has dropped from a peak of 10 percent back in 2009 to 5.9 percent today. (Applause.)
And I know you’re here because you want this state to keep heading in the right direction. But most of all, you’re here because you know that this election will determine what happens on every single one of these issues. You guys are lively here. New Haven, you guys are all fired up. (Applause.) You guys want this to be a participatory rally, don’t you? It’s like, who else should I have come on stage? (Applause.) Come on up here, make some points.
But remember this: You cannot yell in the audience unless you’re going to vote. You’ve got to vote. (Applause.) Every single issue that you care about -- whether it’s schools or jobs or DREAMers or neighborhoods -- so many of those decisions are made by your Governor. Understand this. This is local politics, and more of us have to understand how it works. And that’s why you’re here for Dan Malloy. (Applause.) Because over the past four years, you have seen with your own eyes how this man has transformed this state.
While other governors were cutting education, your Governor invested in your schools. And now, what’s going -- test scores are up. Graduation rates are up. That’s real work. Dan Malloy helped create 60,000 jobs. As he said, he passed paid sick leave, something that everyone -- especially our young people -- should understand. (Applause.)
He raised the minimum wage, one of the most important things that will help working-class families get some stability. He fought for equal pay for women. (Applause.) Come on, ladies. (Applause.) And then, he is a Governor that has shown such compassion. After he sat with those grieving families in Newtown, Dan said, never again. And Dan had the courage to stand up and pass common-sense gun reforms, and today, the crime rate here in Connecticut is at a 40-year low. (Applause.)
So we can’t forget why we’re here today. You know who Dan stands for. You know who your Governor fights for. He fights for you. He fights for your families. Dan Malloy is your Governor. (Applause.) And I want you -- just imagine, as he said, if he achieved so much in four years in tough times, just imagine what this man could do if you gave him another four years. Just imagine. (Applause.)
So now, I want to talk brass tactics. Because this isn’t just about cheering and loving. I’m happy to be here, I’m happy to feel the energy -- I’m even happy to hear the hecklers, because it shows that folks are revved up, they’ve got a focus. This is important. But there is work that must be done. This just doesn’t happen because we feel good about it. It happens because we work for it.
So between now and November the 4th, we need to do everything in our power to reelect Dan Malloy as Governor of this state. We’ve got to do it. (Applause.) And this is not going to be easy -- just focus on this -- this will not be easy. We know there is too much money in politics. We know that special interests have way too much influence -- we know this. But just remember, they had plenty of money and plenty of influence back in 2008 and 2012, and Barack Obama still won those elections. (Applause.) And you want to know why he won those elections?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Because we showed up!
MRS. OBAMA: Exactly -- because we showed up and we voted. That’s why. Because at the end of the day, 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 those votes are what decides elections in this country.
And make no mistake about it, every single one of these votes matters. Because this election is going to be incredibly close -- and we know something about close. And just -- I want you all to think back to Dan’s race in 2010, because the outcome of that election was decided by about 3,200 votes. So just think, if 3,200 people had voted for his opponent instead, Dan would have lost.
And think even further -- because I like to break stuff down -- when you take that 3,200 and you break it down, that’s just four votes per precinct. Take that in for a moment. That is four votes per precinct.
So if there’s anybody here who is thinking that their vote doesn’t matter, if there’s anybody here who knows someone who thinks that voting just isn’t worth their time, if you know young people who are sitting on the couch, I want you to think about those four votes. So we cannot afford to miss out on a single vote in this election -- not one. This is real. Think about your passions. Think about the things you care about. And think four votes.
So right now, here is what I need you to do right now -- I want you all to make a plan. Because sometimes people don’t vote because they don’t have a plan. So make your plan. When are you going to vote? Write down where you’re going to go, and commit to making it happen. Do you need a ride? You have to do it before work? Do you need babysitting? Are you going to take somebody with you that can’t get there on their own? That’s what a plan is. If you’re a young person, you got school, when are you going to make that happen? You’ve got to make a plan, just like everything. Stuff doesn’t just happen.
So everybody here has got to figure out how they’re going to make their voices heard on the 4th. So now, between --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Organize!
MRS. OBAMA: Organize! (Applause.) New Haven, you guys -- this is fun. (Applause.) I got a lot of help on this speech today. So I know with all this enthusiasm, you guys are going to make this happen. You guys are helping me out all through my speech. (Applause.)
So between now and November 4th, I want you to spend every single minute you have doing the groundwork -- knocking on doors, finding your neighbors, making those phone calls for Dan Malloy. You do it. This is how it happens. And then, on November 4th, get yourself, get everyone you know out to the polls.
And if you haven’t registered yet, that’s okay. Young people who haven’t registered -- young people. (Laughter.) For those who may not have registered, you can register on November 4th and vote the very same day. (Applause.) That’s how easy it is.
So there really is no excuse. Get buses and carloads of friends and congregation members and coworkers, and go vote together. In fact, voting here couldn’t be easier -- all you have to do is show up. So don’t be left out.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: November 4th, even the homeless can vote (inaudible.)
MRS. OBAMA: Even the homeless can vote. (Applause.) I love New Haven! I love it. (Applause.) So don’t be left out. Your friends will be there, your neighbors will be there. You will be joining millions of folks across the country who are making their voices heard on the issues they care about. That’s how you make change. All those folks are doing this because they know that elections matter. They know what’s at stake on November the 4th.
You see, because if we stay home on Election Day, all we’re doing is letting other folks decide the outcomes of our lives for us. (Applause.) And if we do that, we know exactly what will happen. We will see less support for our kids’ schools. We’ll see more folks interfering in women’s private decisions about our bodies and our health care -- that you know. (Applause.) We will see more special breaks for those at the top instead of for hard-working folks. (Applause.)
So, Connecticut, I want to be very 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 that every community in this state should have good jobs, that we should have common-sense gun laws that keep our families safe; if you think that every child in Connecticut 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 Dan Malloy for Governor. (Applause.) You’ve got to do this.
Because in the end, that’s really what’s at stake in this election -- it’s the kind of world we want to leave for our kids and our grandkids. And those kids are counting on us. We see these young people here -- they’re counting on us to stand up for them.
And I know these kids, and you know these kids. They’re here. They’re all over the country. And that’s why we have to stay focused.
I’ll tell you a story about one of those kids, Rashema Melson. She’s one of my mentees in Washington. Now, Rashema’s father was murdered when she was a baby, and then for years, her family was homeless. And there were days when she didn’t even have clean clothes to wear to school.
But that didn’t stop Rashema. She showed up every morning to school on time. She threw herself into every class. She often had to wake up in the middle of the night just 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 a 4.0 GPA. (Applause.) She graduated as valedictorian of her class. And right now, today, Rashema is on full scholarship at Georgetown University. (Applause.)
And as I travel across this country, I meet so many kids just like Rashema every day -- kids who are working two or 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 to make it.
And what I think about, what the President thinks about every day -- these kids have every reason to give up, but they are so hungry, they are so desperate to lift themselves up. And that is why we’re here today. Don’t get it twisted, as they say. That’s why we’re here today. (Applause.) As Barack and I tell ourselves every day -- because those kids never give up, then neither can we. Neither can we.
So between now and November 4th, New Haven, we need to be energized for our kids. We need to be inspired for them. We need to pour everything we have into this election so they can have the opportunities they need to build the future they deserve.
So just understand, this is on us. The kids who are desperate to make it in this country, the kids who are working every day to get out of high school, to go to college -- we are standing up to them, and for them. So if we keep stepping up and bringing others along with us, then I am confident that we can keep making that change we believe in. I know that we can reelect Dan Malloy as Governor. And I know that, together, we can build a future worthy of all our children’s dreams.
Thank you all. Get it done. God bless. (Applause.)
4:15 P.M. EDT