Remarks By The First Lady At Grassroots Campaign Event With Democratic Candidate For Governor, Pat Quinn, Democratic Candidate For Senate, Dick Durbin, And Democratic Candidate For Congress, Cheri Bustos -- Moline, Illinois
Wharton’s Field House
1:22 P.M. CDT
MRS. OBAMA: Hey, everyone! (Applause.) Man, I’m glad to be home, even if it’s just for a second -- we’ll see you guys after. It is really good to be back. And you know, I am thrilled to be here to support our friends, our outstanding Democratic leaders -- Pat Quinn, Dick Durbin, and Cheri Bustos. (Applause.)
I want to start by thanking Pat for that very kind introduction. And I’m so grateful for his leadership as Governor. He mentioned -- he’s been such a tremendous support on issues involving military families and so much more, and he’s been a great friend and a great advocate. So I’m proud to be here for Pat.
I also want to thank Randi Weingarten for her remarks and for fighting so hard for teachers every single day. (Applause.)
But most of all, I really want to thank all of you for being here. I know, like me, that you all are fired up and ready to go -- I can tell, right? We’re going to get this done. (Applause.) And like me, you all are here today for one simple reason.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: To see you!
MRS. OBAMA: No. (Laughter.) You’re here because you know that this election isn’t about the folks on this stage. It isn’t about them. It’s about you. It’s about what’s going in your lives, and in your families, and in your communities. (Applause.)
You’re here because when you kissed your kids goodbye this morning, you want to know that you’re sending them to good schools with good teachers who are going to push them and inspire them, and get them on track to go to college and get the kind of job that will pay the bills. That’s why you’re here. (Applause.)
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 the bills and give your family a decent life. That’s why I’m standing here -- because I had a father. He was a working-class guy. He worked all his life at the water filtration plant. On that salary, he could send me and my brother to college. That’s got to be the way it goes for everyone in this country. That’s why you’re here. (Applause.)
You’re here because you know that under the leadership of our elected officials that things are starting to get better. You’ve heard the numbers: 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.) And you’re here because you want to keep this state heading in the right direction.
But most of all, you’re here because you know that when it comes to your schools, to your jobs, to your paychecks, so many of these decisions are made by your Governor and by the folks that you send to Congress. And that’s why we’re all here for Pat, for Dick, and Cheri –- because we’ve seen with our own eyes what they have done for this state.
We’ve seen Pat creating good jobs right here in Illinois. And this state is now leading the Midwest in job creation -- because of your Governor. (Applause.) You know that Pat has fought to raise the minimum wage for folks like my dad; investing in our schools so that all our kids can fulfill their God-given potential. You’ve seen this, you’ve felt it.
As for my dear friend, Dick, he’s been taking on Wall Street -- yes, indeed. He’s been working to bring down the deficit. And Dick is now -- most importantly, he will be the second highest leader in the U.S. Senate -- understand he will have a powerful voice for Illinois out in Washington. We need Dick. (Applause.)
And as for Cheri, you know the -- she has been leading the way to revitalize the manufacturing in this state. She’s fought hard for equal pay for women, and affordable childcare for our families, and so much more. (Applause.)
So that’s why I’m here. And I know that’s why you’re here -- because between now and November 4th, we need to do everything we can to reelect Pat and Dick and Cheri so that they can keep moving this state and this country forward. We’re going to get this done. (Applause.) And understand -- look, this is personal for me, because this is my home state. This is my home. (Applause.) And like all of you, I care deeply about what happens here.
And I’ve been through plenty of elections here in Illinois. I’ve seen them come and go. And many of you were right there with us, back when we were on the South Side working to get Barack to Springfield as a State Senator, back when we traveled across this state to get Barack to the U.S. Senate -- (applause) -- and back to those long days when we were all talking about hope and change, and working to get Barack elected to President. So many of you were there.
So we know these elections are tough. We know that this won’t be easy. We know there is too much money in politics. We know special interests have way too much influence. But what I want us to remember over these next few days, is they had plenty of money and plenty of influence back in 2008 and 2010 and 2012, and Dick and Pat and Cheri and Barack still won those elections. (Applause.) We have to remember that.
And you want to know why they won? They won because of you. They didn’t win because of money -- they won because of you. They won because we showed up and we voted. And at the end of the day, the folks running those special interest groups, the folks with all that money pouring into our elections, they each just have one vote -- and so do each of us. And those votes are what decides elections in the United States of America. We can never forget that. (Applause.)
And every single one of those votes matters. Because this election -- is going to be incredibly close. I want to just take you back to Pat’s race in 2010. The outcome of that election was decided by about 32,000 votes. And if just 32,000 people had voted for his opponent instead, Pat would have lost. Now, I want to break down that number, because when you break that number down across precincts, that’s just three votes per precinct. I mean, take that in. That’s how close these elections are -- three votes.
So if there is anyone here, anyone you know, anyone in this state who thinks their vote doesn’t matter, who thinks maybe they’ll just sit down, watch a little TV, sleep in -- think about those three votes. Think about how if everybody here brings just two more friends to the polls, then you alone --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Leave no one behind!
MRS. OBAMA: -- leave no one behind. (Applause.) Because you could swing an entire precinct for Pat or for Dick or for Cheri. That’s how close it is. That’s the power of everyone in this room. And that’s how we’ve won in the past. Three votes! Three votes!
And voting couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is show up. So right now, today, I want everyone -- make a plan to vote. Don’t let it just happen, plan it. And help others plan it. Decide when you’re going to do it. Write down where you need to go. Do you need a ride? Do you need a babysitter? Do you need to help somebody else get to the polls? Sign one of the “Commit to Vote” cards that folks are handing out -- do that, and then help others do it.
And remember, you can still vote early this weekend. So go vote tomorrow. Just check it off your list. Get it done. Because if you vote before Election Day, you can help others get to the polls. (Applause.) And if you can’t before, you can get it done on Election Day, Tuesday. We just have a few more days to go.
And get as many people as you know to join in. Call folks. Knock on doors. Drive people to the polls. Join the millions of folks across this country who are doing their part to make their voice heard.
I don’t want anybody here in my home state to be left out. Because if we sit this election out, we’re letting other folks decide the outcome for our lives for us. And if we do that, we know exactly what will happen. We’re going to see less support for our kids’ schools -- we’ll see more opposition to raising the minimum wage. We’ll see more special breaks for those at the top instead of for hard-working folks.
So I want to be very clear: If you want to keep on creating good jobs all across this state, 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 child in Illinois should have the education they need from preschool to college, then you need to get out there and vote for Pat and for Dick and for Cheri. (Applause.)
Because in the end, that’s what’s at stake in this election. I remind people -- we’re here because we’re talking about the kind of country we want to leave for our kids and our grandkids. And let me tell you what keeps me going through all this -- is that I think about our kids. Because they’re counting on us. Think about those kids. They’re counting on us to stand up for them.
And I know these kids. I know kids in states around the country. One young woman, Rashema Melson, has been a mentee of mine in a group of kids we mentor in Washington, D.C. And Rashema’s father was murdered when she was a baby. For years, her family was homeless. There were days when she didn’t even have clean clothes to wear to school.
See, but this young lady, so full of spunk and energy and brightness -- this girl showed up every morning to school on time. She threw herself into her classes, 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 grew up. But by senior year, Rashema had earned herself a 4.0 GPA. She graduated as the valedictorian of her class. And right now, Rashema has a full scholarship at Georgetown University. (Applause.) I am so proud of her.
But here’s the thing -- as I travel across the country, I meet thousands of kids just like Rashema. They’re our kids. They’re here in Moline. They’re our kids. Kids who are waking up and 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 out.
These are our kids. And they have every reason to give up, but they’re so hungry to succeed. They’re so desperate to lift themselves up. And that’s why we’re here. That’s why we do this work. That’s why Barack and I, we keep fighting. We’re proud of our state, we’re proud of our kids -- they don’t give up, and neither can we. (Applause.)
So between now and November 4th, 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 futures they deserve.
And we can do this, Illinois. We’ve done it before. All we have to do is keep stepping up and bringing others along with us -- three votes per precinct. Keep that in mind. (Applause.) And we can keep on making that change we believe in. We can reelect Pat as our Governor, Dick as our Senator, Cheri as our Congresswoman. And I know that together, we can build a future worthy of all our children.
Thank you all. God bless. Fired up! Fired up! (Applause.) Get it done! We are so proud of you. I love my state. (Applause.)
1:35 P.M. CDT