The White House
Office of the First Lady
Remarks by the First Lady at a Grassroots Event - Las Vegas
The Springs Preserve
Las Vegas, Nevada
10:31 A.M. PDT
MRS. OBAMA: Yes! Yes! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! (Applause.) You all, oh, this feels so good. Thank you all so much. (Applause.) I am beyond thrilled to be here with all of you today. Oh, my goodness.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We're happy to have you! (Laughter and applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: Let me start by thanking Loretta for that very kind, very passionate, very heartfelt introduction and for her outstanding work with our young people, work as a neighborhood team leader, and as a National Co-Chair. Let’s give her a big old round of applause. Loretta -- way to go. (Applause.)
I also want to thank Reverend Chaney for his invocation earlier in the program. Is that your Reverend? Is that your Reverend? (Applause.) And I want to thank Rubin for getting everybody pumped up this morning. (Applause.) Did a good job; well done, well done, well done. And I also want to recognize your state party chairwoman, Roberta Lange, who is here -- thank her for her leadership here in this state. (Applause.)
And finally, the reason why I am here is to thank all of you. I mean, truly, thank you for your extraordinary volunteer work. Thank you for all the organizing you do. Thank you for everything you do, day in and day out, to make this campaign possible. Truly, truly -- (applause) -- you all are doing the hard work. Thank you for knocking on those doors. Thank you for making all those phone calls. Thank you for registering those voters. I want to thank you for giving folks the information about the issues that they care about. That is so important.
I want to thank you all for that kind of grassroots work that you all are doing to get people focused and fired up. Because what you have to know is that that kind of work -- all that you're doing -- is at the core of our campaign. That’s who we are, right? That’s what we do, right? We reach out. We reach out; we bring folks from all different backgrounds into this democratic process, right? That’s how we did it four years ago, and that is exactly how we are going to do it again today, right? (Applause.)
And the one thing I know is that the work you do is not easy. I know you all are putting in long hours. And I know you all have busy lives. You’ve got families you're trying to raise, jobs you've got to do; many of you have got classes you're attending -- way to go. (Applause.)
But I also know there’s a reason you all are devoting so much of your lives to this cause. And there’s a reason why I’m here today. And it’s not just because we support one extraordinary man –- (applause) -- yes. Although I am a little biased -- (laughter) -- I think my husband has been a phenomenal President. (Applause.)
And it’s not just because we want to win an election -- which we do. But we’re doing this because of the values we believe in. We’re doing this because of the vision for this country that we all share -- all of us. We're doing this because we want our children to have schools worthy of their promise -– schools that push them, schools that inspire them, that prepare them for good jobs. We want our kids to have clean air, safe streets, and we want them to grow up in a world that is peaceful and secure.
We want our parents and our grandparents to retire with dignity, because we believe that after a lifetime of hard work they should enjoy their golden years. Amen?
AUDIENCE: Amen! (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: We want to restore that basic middle-class security for our families, because we believe that folks shouldn’t go bankrupt because they get sick; we believe they shouldn’t lose their home because someone loses a job. We believe, as Loretta said, that responsibility should be rewarded. We believe that hard work should pay off. We believe that everyone should do their fair share, but play by the same rules. (Applause.)
And what we know is that these are basic American values. They’re the values that so many of us were raised with, including myself. As you all know -- you know my story -- my father was a blue-collar city worker; worked at the city water plant his entire life. And my family lived in a little-bitty apartment on the South Side of Chicago. South Side! Chicago! (Applause.) My mother still lives in that house. My room looks exactly the same. (Laughter.) Same bed sheets, same pictures on the wall. (Laughter.) Same little-bitty furniture. (Laughter.)
But neither of my parents had the opportunity to go to college. But let me tell you what my parents did do, which was probably even more valuable: They saved and they sacrificed everything; they poured everything they had into us because they wanted my brother and I to get an education they could only dream of. And while pretty much all of my college tuition came from student loans and grants -- how many people are in that position? (Applause.) My dad, he still paid a small portion of that tuition himself. And every semester, he was determined to pay that bill on time. My father was so proud to be sending his kids to college, and he couldn’t bear the thought of me or my brother missing that registration deadline because his check was late.
Like so many people in this country, my father took great pride in being able to earn a living that allowed him to handle his responsibilities to his family -- to pay all of his bills and to pay them on time. See, and more than anything else, that’s what’s at stake. That’s what’s at stake. It’s that fundamental promise that no matter who you are or how you started out, if you work hard, you can build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids. (Applause.)
That’s what we’re working for, but that’s what we need you to tell people. With every door you knock on -- know this: With every call you make, with every conversation you have, you have to tell folks about our values. You’ve got to tell them about our vision, about everything that’s at stake this November. That’s your job.
You can tell them first how Barack fought for tax cuts for working families and small businesses, because an economy built to last starts with the middle class and with folks who are creating jobs and putting people back to work. Tell them that. Remind people how back when Barack first took office, our economy was losing an average of 750,000 jobs every single month. That’s what he walked into. But for the past 25 months, let them know, we have actually been gaining private sector jobs -- a total of 4 million jobs in two years. (Applause.)
So while we know we have a long way to go to build our economy -- to rebuild it, today people need to know that millions of people are collecting a paycheck again. Millions of people -- like my dad -- are able to pay their bills again.
You can also remind people how so many folks in Washington were telling Barack to let the auto industry go under with more than a million jobs on the line. Remember that. But back then, Barack had the backs of American workers, and as a result today the auto industry is back on its feet again. And more importantly, people are back to work. (Applause.) They are back to work providing for their families again.
And you can tell people how because we passed health reform -- Loretta mentioned this -- because of that work, insurance companies will have to cover preventative care -- things like contraception, cancer screenings, prenatal care -- at no extra cost. (Applause.) Because of this reform, millions of our seniors have saved an average of more than $600 a year on their prescription drugs -- because of health reform. (Applause.) And kids can stay on parents' insurance until they're 26 years old. (Applause.) Let people know that that is how 2.5 million of our young people are now getting the health care they need.
You can tell people about what Barack has done to raise standards in our public schools and make college more affordable so that young people can get the education they need for those good jobs they deserve. Right? (Applause.)
We need you to tell people this -- tell people how Barack has been fighting so hard for the DREAM Act -- (applause) -- so that responsible young immigrants who came here as children and were raised as Americans can earn a pathway to citizenship by going to college and serving in the military. (Applause.)
You can tell folks that our troops no longer have to lie about who they are to serve the country they love because my husband ended "don't ask, don't tell." (Applause.)
It is now easier for women to get equal pay for equal work because of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. (Applause.) This was the very first bill my husband signed into law.
And don’t forget -- don't forget to tell people about those two brilliant Supreme Court justices Barack appointed -- (applause) -- and how for the first time in history, our daughters and our sons watched three women take their seat on our nation’s highest court. (Applause.)
But what we cannot forget is that all of that is at stake this November. All of it is on the line. And in the end, it all boils down to one simple question. Will we continue the change we’ve begun and the progress we’ve made, or will we allow everything we’ve fought for to just slip away?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, we know what we need to do, right?
MRS. OBAMA: We can’t turn back now.
MRS. OBAMA: We can't -- we need to keep moving forward.
MRS. OBAMA: Because while we’ve come a long way these past few years, we have so much more work to do. So much more. And more than anything else, that's what we’re working for -- the chance to finish what we started, the chance to keep fighting for the values we believe in and the vision we all share. All of us. And that is what your President has been doing every single day in office. (Applause.) Every single day.
And let me share something with you. Over the past three and a half years, I’ve had the chance to see up close and personal what being President looks like. Right? I've seen it. I’ve seen how the issues that come across a President’s desk are always the hard ones -- always. The problems with no easy solutions. The judgment calls where the stakes are so high, and the margin of error so small. And as President, you can get all kinds of advice -- you will -- advice and opinions from all kinds of people. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, a President -- all a President has to guide him is those values. His vision. His life experience. That’s it. (Applause.)
In the end, when you’re making those impossible choices, it all boils down to who you are and what you stand for. (Applause.) And we all know who my husband is, don’t we? (Applause.) We all know what he stands for. We all know what he stands for.
He is the son of a single mother who struggled to pay the bills, put herself through school. He is the grandson of a woman who woke up before dawn every day to catch a bus to a job at the bank. And even though Barack’s grandmother worked hard to help support the family, and she was good at her job, like so many, she hit that glass ceiling and watched men no more qualified than she was be promoted up the ladder ahead of her.
See, so what you have to know about your President is that Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. He knows what it means when someone doesn’t have a chance to fulfill their potential. And today, as a father, he knows what it means to want something better for your kids.
See, those are the experiences that have made him the man -– and the President -– he is today. And we are blessed to have him. (Applause.)
So think about this: When it comes time to stand up for American workers and American families, you know what my husband’s going to do, right? When there’s a choice about protecting our rights and our freedoms, you know where Barack stands. And when we need a leader to make the hard decisions to keep this country moving forward, you know you can count on Barack, because that is what he’s been doing every day as President of the United States -- every day. But I have said this before --
AUDIENCE: He’s got you! (Laughter and applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: And we have all of you. (Applause.) See, because I have said this before, and I will say it again and again and again: Barack cannot do this alone. That was never the promise. He needs your help. He needs all of you to keep giving just a little part of your lives each week for this campaign. He needs you to keep on pounding that pavement and signing your friends up, your neighbors up, your colleagues. Get them to sign those “I’m In” cards. He needs you to recruit even more volunteers, even more organizers and show them how their day-to-day efforts will absolutely make the difference -- absolutely.
And he needs you to send people to a website called gottaregister.com. This is important. We created this website to help folks from every state in this country to register to vote and find out where to cast their ballots. That’s an important website.
And just let me say this: If you have any doubt about the difference that you are making, I just want you to remember that in the end, this could all come down to just that last few thousand people we register to vote. Understand that it could all come down to those last few thousand people we help get to the polls on November the sixth. And I want you to think for a minute about what these kind of numbers mean when they’re spread out over an entire state. It might mean registering just one more person in your town -- just one more. It might mean helping just one more person in your community get out and vote on Election Day -- just one more.
So know this: With every door you knock on, with every call you make, with every conversation you have, I want you to remember that this could be the one that makes the difference. Treat every call, every interaction like that. This could be the one. You could be the one who inspires someone to make their voice heard this November. You could be the one. That is the impact that each of you can have. And that is why we invest so much time and effort at the grassroots level. Because we know that that’s where it matters; that’s where we need you the most.
So I’m going to ask you one last question: Are you in? (Applause.) Are you in? (Applause) Oh, I am in. We are going to get this done. I am so fired up. I hope you are, too. You all fired up?
MRS. OBAMA: I cannot wait to get out there with you all. We are going to be working so hard every single day. Thank you all for everything you’ve done. We love you so much.
God bless you all. Keep it up.
10:51 A.M. PDT