Remarks by the First Lady at a Campaign Event
Lucas Oil Stadium
7:00 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: You all, thank you so much. (Applause.) I’m going to tip this up a little bit. Thank you so much.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Michelle!
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, love you back. Love you right back. (Applause.)
It is just so wonderful to be here and to see all of you this afternoon, evening -- what time of day is it? I’ve lost track of time. (Laughter.) The sun is still up -- (laughter) -- but it is so good to be here. I know we were supposed to be here a month ago or something, but here we -- I’ve come back. I told you, I’m here. (Applause.) So thank you all for your patience.
I want to start by thanking Andrea for that very kind introduction and for sharing her story, and for all of the work that she’s done on behalf of the campaign. So let’s give her a round of applause. (Applause.)
There are a few other thank-yous I’d like to say. I know Congressman Carson and his wife, they were here. I want to thank them. They have just been terrific, tremendous, consistent supporters. (Applause.) And our co-hosts, Dr. Myers, Alan Kostas, Aaron, George -- way to go. (Applause.) Thanks for working to make this event such a success.
And finally, I want to thank all of you, truly. I mean, I am always amazed when people take time out of their busy lives to be here. And I know this is important, but I know everybody is busy. I know that people have a lot on their plates -- you guys have jobs to do; hopefully there are a lot of young people with classes to attend, maybe even some not-so-young people attending some classes. (Applause.) And I know that we are all investing in our families, so I know you’re busy.
But I also know that there’s a reason why all of us have taken time out to be here today, and it’s not just because we all support who I think is a pretty awesome, cute, phenomenal, extraordinary man, who happens to be my husband and the President of the United States. (Applause.) I don’t know about you, but I think our President is doing a phenomenal job. I’m a little biased. (Applause.) And we’re not just here because we want to win an election -- which we do, and we will. (Applause.)
One of the things that I try to remind people, because I always try to remind myself, is that we’re here, we’re doing this work because of our values -- because of the values we believe in. We’re doing this because of the vision for this country that we all share. We’re doing this because we believe that everyone in this country should have a fair shot. (Applause.) All our kids should have good schools. All of our kids should be able to go to college without a mountain of debt -- not just some, all of them. (Applause.)
We’re here because we believe that everyone in this country should do their fair share, plain and simple. (Applause.) Which means that teachers and firefighters shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires. Not in America. (Applause.) We believe that if you work hard, you shouldn’t go bankrupt because someone gets sick. (Applause.) You shouldn’t lose your home because someone loses a job. Not in America. And after a lifetime of hard work, you should be able to retire with some dignity and some security. That’s what we believe. (Applause.)
And what I remind people is that these are basic American values. These are the values upon which this country was built. This is nothing new. They’re the values that so many of us were raised with, including myself. These are Midwestern values. (Applause.) And everywhere I go, I share my story because I’m proud of my story. Most of you know my father was a pump operator at the city water plant -- only job he had my entire life. And neither of my parents had a college degree. But let me tell you what my parents did -- they saved for us; they sacrificed. My parents poured everything they had into me and my brother because they were going to make sure that we got the kind of education and had the kind of opportunities they could only dream of.
And let me tell you something, for the young people in the room, education was everything in our family. It was everything. Don’t ever forget that: Education is everything. (Applause.) Education was our ticket to the middle class, right? It was our pathway to that American Dream. And when my brother and I finally made it to college, pretty much all of our tuition came from student loans and grants -- like many people in this country. But my dad still had to pay a tiny portion of that tuition himself. And let me tell you, every semester my dad did whatever it took to make sure that he paid that little portion right on time. See, because he was so proud to be sending his kids to college. And he made sure that we never missed a registration deadline because his check was late.
And like so many people in this country, my father, oh, he took such pride in being able to earn the kind of living that allowed him to support his family, to handle his responsibilities. That’s all my dad ever wanted -- to be able to pay all of his bills and pay them on time. Nothing more; simple wants.
And my father’s life is a testament to that basic American 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. That’s how we were raised. (Applause.)
And let me tell you something, my husband understands that promise because that’s his story as well. That’s really why I married him. (Laughter.) You know? I could relate to his story. He’s the son of single mother who struggled to put herself through school and pay the bills. He’s the grandson of a woman who woke up before dawn every day to catch a bus to a job at a bank, and even though Barack’s grandmother worked hard at that bank to support their family, and she was good at her job, like so many women she hit that glass ceiling and men no more qualified than she was -- men she had actually trained -- were promoted up that ladder ahead of her.
But let me tell you what Barack saw, what he learned. He saw a woman who never complained. Never complained; just kept getting up, just kept giving her best every single day to help support their family.
So what I think is important for everybody to know is that you have a President who knows what it means when a family struggles. It’s not a hypothetical situation for him. He knows what it means to work hard because you simply want something better for your kids and your grandkids. And like me, and like so many of you, Barack knows the American Dream because he has lived it. (Applause.) Absolutely.
And what he understands and believes is that when you’ve worked hard and you’ve done well -- and there is nothing wrong with doing well -- and when you’ve walked through that doorway of opportunity, he knows that you don’t slam it shut behind you. You don’t do that. You reach back and you give other folks the same opportunities you had to get ahead. (Applause.)
And really, more than anything else, that’s why we’re here. That’s what’s at stake in this election. It’s that dream, that fundamental American promise. And from now until November, we’re going to need all of you out there working hard, telling everyone you know -- tell them about Barack’s values. Make sure they understand who they have as a President. Tell them about his vision. Tell them about the choices we face in this election, because this election is all about choices.
This election is a choice about our economy. It’s about whether we build -- whether and how we build a strong and growing middle class. So I want you all to remind folks that Barack cut taxes for working families by $3,600. That’s who is getting the tax cuts. (Applause.) He cut taxes for small businesses 18 times in his presidency -- 18 times. Because what Barack understands is that rebuilding our economy starts with the restaurants and those mom-and-pop stores and those startups that create two-thirds of all new jobs in this economy. That’s why he did it.
But I also want you to remind people -- give them some perspective, because, back when Barack first took office, this economy was losing an average of 750,000 jobs every single month. That’s what he walked into. That’s what he inherited. Sometimes we seem to forget that. That’s where we started. But for the past 29 straight months -- you’ve got to let them know -- we’ve actually been gaining private sector jobs consistently -- a total of 4.5 million new jobs. (Applause.)
So, yes, we still have a long way to go. We have more work to do to rebuild our economy. But today millions of people are collecting a paycheck again; millions of people like my dad are able to pay their bills again.
This election is a choice about the health of our families. Now, let me give you a little more perspective on this one: The fact is that over the past century -- do you hear me, 100 years -- so many of our Presidents have tried and failed to meet the challenge of health care reform. But your President was determined. (Applause.) Your President, fortunately for us, he was driven by the stories of the people he’d met, people in our lives. We all know these folks. Some of them are us -- the grandparents who couldn’t afford their medications; the families going broke because a child got sick; the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company wouldn’t cover her care.
And let me tell you, it was those stories and so many more -- that’s what kept him going day after day. That’s why he fought so hard for this historic reform. And thankfully he did, because today, because of this reform, our parents and grandparents are paying hundreds less -- today -- for their prescription drugs. (Applause.) Today, because of that reform -- today -- our kids can stay on our insurance until they’re 26 years old. (Applause.) And we know how important this is, so that the young people in our lives, when they graduate and they’re just starting out and they’re getting out there in the world, they don’t have to figure all that out without health care. We know what that means.
Today, because of this reform, insurance companies have to cover basic preventative care at no [extra] cost -- things like contraception, cancer screenings, prenatal care. (Applause.) Insurance companies cannot discriminate you because you have a preexisting illness. They can’t do that anymore. (Applause.)
And this is the one that gets me: If you get a serious illness, like breast cancer, and you need real expensive treatment, your insurance company can no longer tell you, sorry, you’ve hit your lifetime limit and we’re not paying a penny more. Thanks to health reform, that is now illegal. (Applause.)
But make no mistake about it, this November we get to decide. Do we want these reforms to be repealed?
MRS. OBAMA: Or do we want the people we love to have the care they need?
MRS. OBAMA: See, but that’s the choice in this election.
This election is a choice about whether our kids can attend college without a mountain of debt. Let me share something with you. Back when Barack and I, we were first starting out -- so in love, but so broke -- (laughter) -- our combined student loan bill was -- each month was actually higher than our mortgage. And I know there are a lot of people who can relate to that, because that’s how we pay for education. So when it comes to student debt, believe me, Barack and I, we have been there. And that is why Barack doubled funding for Pell Grants and fought so hard to stop student loan interest rates from rising. (Applause.) Because he knows how important it is for all of our young people to get the education they’re going to need to compete for the jobs of the future, the jobs we know our young people deserve.
He wants all of our kids to fulfill their promise -- all of them. And that is why he’s been fighting so hard for the DREAM Act. (Applause.) Understand this -- he is fighting for responsible young people who came to this country as children, through no fault of their own; they know no other country but America, they were raised as Americans. Because your President believes that these young people also deserve a chance -- a chance to go to college, to contribute to our economy, to serve the country they know and love. (Applause.)
This election is also a choice about keeping our country safe. So I want to remind you that after 10 long years of war -- and share this as you go out into the land -- 10 years after so many of our heroic men and women in uniform served and sacrificed and gave their lives, Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to this country. (Applause.)
And you can remind folks that your President kept his promise and brought our troops home from Iraq. (Applause.) And we are all working as a nation to make sure that they get the benefits and the support that they have earned.
And today, our troops no longer have to lie about who they are to serve the country they love, because Barack finally ended “don’t ask, don’t tell.” (Applause.)
This election is a choice about our Supreme Court. So please remind people about those two brilliant Justices he appointed -- Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Sonia Sotomayor -- and how, for the first time in history, our daughters and sons watched three women take their seat on our nation’s highest court. (Applause.) First time in history.
And finally, this election is a choice about supporting women and families in this country. So please tell people that it is now easier for women to get equal pay for equal work because of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the very first bill my husband signed into law. (Applause.)
And remind them that Barack Obama believes women should be able to make our own choices about our health care. (Applause.)
So when you go out there, and you’re working and talking to your neighbors and talking to your relatives, and people ask you, well, tell me what this President has done for this country? Here’s what I want you to tell them: Tell them how many jobs he’s created. Tell them how much money he’s put back in the pockets of American folks, working folks. You can tell them that more of our kids can afford college. Tell them more of our seniors can afford their medicine.
Remind folks Barack ended the war in Iraq. Remind them that he passed historic health reform. Remind them that he has stood up for our most fundamental rights again and again and again. That’s what I want you to tell them. (Applause.)
And remind them that all of that and so much more –- all of it is at stake this November. It’s all on the line. And that is really the choice we face. Are we going to continue the change we’ve begun and the progress that we’ve made? Or are we going to just stand by and watch everything that we’ve worked so hard for to just slip away? We know what we need to do. We cannot turn back now -- not now. In this country, we need to keep moving forward. Forward! Forward! (Applause.) In America, we always move forward. Forward! (Applause.)
And more than anything else, that’s why we’re here. That’s what we’re working for –- the chance to finish what we’ve started, the chance to keep fighting for the values we believe in. These are our values. To keep working for the vision that we all share. That’s what my husband has been doing every single day as President.
And let me tell you, over the last three and a half years, as your First Lady, I have had the chance to see up close and personal what being President looks like. See, and I’ve learned some things that I want to share with you before we go into the ballot booth. Because I’ve seen how the issues that come across a President’s desk, they are always the hard ones, believe me -- the problems with no easy solutions, the judgment calls where the stakes are so high, and there is no margin for error.
And I have seen that as President, you are going to get all kinds of advice and all kinds of opinions from all kinds of people, all the time. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as President, truly, all you have to guide you are your life experiences. All you have to guide you are your values, is your vision for this country. In the end, it all boils down to who you are and what you stand for. And we all know who my husband is, don’t we?
MRS. OBAMA: We all know what he stands for. (Applause.)
And we have seen again and again just how hard he’s willing to fight for us.
I mean, remember when folks in Washington told Barack to let the auto industry go under? They said, let it go -- with more than a million jobs on the line. But thank goodness Barack had the backs of American workers. (Applause.) Instead, he put his faith on the American people. And as a result, today the auto industry is back on its feet again. More importantly, people are back at work again, earning a paycheck, supporting their families. (Applause.)
And remember how Barack -- there were folks who were telling Barack not to take on health care. You remember that? I do. They said, leave it for another day, another President -- just keep kicking that can down the road.
But Barack had the backs of American families. And as a result, today millions -- millions of people in the United States of America can finally see a doctor when they’re sick, can get the care they need to stay well. (Applause.)
So before you step into the voting booth on Election Day, you’ve got to ask yourself, who’s going to stand up for me?
Who’s going to look out for my family? Because when it comes time to stand up for the middle class, working folks, so our kids can go to college, and our families can make a decent living, retire with some security, you know what my husband is going to do. You know that.
When we need a President to protect our most basic rights, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love, you know you can count on Barack Obama, because that’s what he’s been doing every single day as President of the United States. Every day. (Applause.)
But I have said this before, and I will keep saying it: He cannot do this alone. He needs your help. Got to have his back -- especially on this one -- because Barack has said that this election will be even closer than the last one. That’s the only guarantee.
And in the end, it could all come down to those last few thousand votes. How many times have we seen that? And just think about a few thousand votes, when you look at it across -- when those numbers are spread out across an entire state, across hundreds of cities and thousands of precincts, those numbers start getting a little smaller.
And this is how I want you to think about it. Think about the power you have in this election -- because with one new voter, that one new voter that each of you registers, with that one neighbor that you help get to the polls on November the 6th, understand that that could be the one that makes the difference. It is that simple.
That one conversation that you have, that one new volunteer you recruit, that could be the one that puts all of this over the top. That could be the difference between us waking up on November 7th and wondering, “Could we have done more?”, or feeling the promise of four more years. It’s one.
And that’s why we’ve launched It Takes One. It’s this new initiative that is very simple, but it really emphasizes the power of democracy. Every time you take an action on behalf of this campaign to move it forward, we’re just asking you to bring that one new person in. Inspire that one more person. And we all have that one person in our lives; some of us have 10. (Laughter.) Inspire them to do their part.
So if you’re making phone calls, if you’re knocking on doors, bring one friend along. If you’re coming to an event, bring that neighbor who’s never been involved in a campaign before, never been involved in an election.
When you vote early or on Election Day, bring one new voter along with you. I mean, that is the power of one -- that one friend, that one colleague, that one person in your family. You could send them to barackobama.com/one. It is as simple as that. And they can easily get involved.
And you can get started by signing up right now, signing up with one of our grassroots volunteers today who are here. And
we need every single one of you to join in. And if we just look around at this room, the people in this room, if they take this initiative to heart, just imagine what that margin of 2,000 -- it is gone.
As Barack says, it just takes just one voice to change a room. And if a voice can change a room, it can change a city. And if it can change a city, it can change a state. And if it can change a state, it can change a nation. That is the power of one. So never underestimate the value of the work that you are doing on this ground, in this election, to move this country forward. It will be the difference in this election. (Applause.)
And this journey is going to be long, although it’s getting shorter every day. (Laughter.) And it is going to be hard. And there are going to be lots of twists and turns along the way.
But what I try to remind myself and those that I speak to is that’s really how change always happens in this country. The truth is, real change takes time, requires patience and lots of tenacity. But if we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight, doing what we know in our hearts is right, then eventually we get there because we always have.
In this country we always move forward. But here’s the trick -- maybe not in our lifetimes, but maybe in our children’s lifetimes, maybe in our grandchildren’s lifetimes. (Applause.) Because, hopefully, in the end, that’s really why we’re here. That’s what this is about.
In the end, that’s what elections are always about. Don’t let anybody tell you differently. Elections are always about hope. They are about our hopes for our children. They’re about the world we want to leave for our next generation. And if you detect any passion in me -- (laughter) -- let me tell you, it’s because every day, when I look into the eyes of my girls, that’s what I think about. That’s what keeps me going.
I think about how I want to do for them what my dad did for me, and what Barack’s grandmother did for him. I want to give my daughters -- and I want to give all of our sons and daughters -- a real foundation for their dreams. (Applause.) And I want to give them opportunities worthy of their promise, because we know that all of these kids are worthy. I don’t care what political persuasion you are, I don’t care where you’re from -- we all know that our kids our worthy. They deserve the best we have to offer.
I want to give our kids that sense of limitless possibility -- that belief that here in America, the greatest country on the planet, there is always something better out there if you’re willing to work for it. So I just say to myself, we cannot turn back now. Uh-uh, not now. We have come so far, but we have so much more work to do.
So I have to ask you: Are you ready for this?
AUDIENCE: Yes! (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: Are you in? (Applause.) I hope you all are in. I hope you’re fired up. I hope you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and really get to work. Over the next 70-some-odd days we are going to need you to push like never before. Reach out, find those friends, find those people who aren’t clear on where they want to be. Be that voice. Be that inspiration for them. Tell the story. Talk about our values. Talk about our vision. And if we do, we will definitely have four more years to keep moving this country forward.
Thank you all. Love you all, and God bless. (Applause.)
7:30 P.M. EDT