Michelle Obama photo

Remarks by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden to the Women's Caucus at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina

September 06, 2012

MRS. BIDEN: Thank you, Mame, for that introduction and for your leadership of the Women's Caucus. It's so exciting to be here. (Applause.) I know you are hearing speeches all week, so I'm going to be brief. Mostly I want to thank you -- I want you all to know how much we appreciate everything that you are doing for this campaign all across the country.

And as you know, there's so much at stake in this election. I don't know about you, but over these last few weeks and months, it's become more and more clear that we can't go back and fight the same battles we've fought. (Applause.)

We've been fighting them for years, and even decades, and believe me, I'm old enough that I know those fights in the '60s. From the choices we've made about health care to the pay we earn at the workplace, the choice women face in this election couldn't be clearer. One thing we know for sure is that our President and our Vice President have our backs. (Applause.) And we've got to make sure that the other women in our lives know just how important it is that we've got Joe and Barack's backs as well. (Applause.)

So I want to ask you to do your part to move this country forward. We simply can't leave all the passion and enthusiasm right here in Charlotte, North Carolina. We've got to get out and work all across this country.

That's something that Michelle is going to talk to you about in a few minutes. She's someone who has been a wonderful supporter and partner to me over the past four years. She has been an incredible, inspiring example for all of us, but more than ever, I'm just proud to call her my friend. (Applause.)

So please join me in welcoming our First Lady, Michelle Obama. (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA: Oh, yes! (Applause.) All right. This is good stuff. Okay, everybody, rest yourselves -- (laughter) -- because I'm going to ask you to do some work. So I want you to be sitting -- (laughter) -- when I give you that charge.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Michelle!

MRS. OBAMA: Love you guys. Love you so much. (Applause.)

And let me just say, to say that I am thrilled to be here is an understatement. For me and Jill, you all fire us up. you get us focused on what we need to do. So thank you all so much.

And I want to thank Jill, because there is nothing "second" about this lady. (Laughter and applause.) I am always amazed. First of all, she always looks good. She looks like this in the morning, she looks like this when we're doing service, when she's playing with that big, huge dog they have. (Laughter.) He's like a wolf. (Laughter.) But he's very sweet.

So she is beautiful, she is incredibly kind, and the fact that she has been able to manage this role as being the wife of the Vice President -- and she is a full-time teacher -- is just a testament to her. (Applause.) And she has got the best kids and grandkids you'd ever want to meet. So she is still mom-in-chief as well. So let's give a hand to my partner and friend, Jill Biden. (Applause.)

And again, I want to thank Mame for her leadership, for that wonderful, kind, generous introduction. Mame, you're doing an outstanding job. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

And I know that we have a lot of elected officials and members of the administration here today. I see all of my good women out there. Thank you, guys, for being here. Thank you for working so hard and fighting the good fight every single day. Thank you, guys. (Applause.)

Now, I don't know about all of you, but I think we have had a pretty amazing week here in Charlotte. (Applause.) And from the energy and enthusiasm that we're seeing, again, not just in the caucuses, but on the streets and just in -- it's just palpable. It is so clear that folks are fired up. That's for sure.

And I think President Clinton did a phenomenal job last night, didn't he? (Applause.) I think that he and the other speakers once again reminded us of the values and vision that we all share. That's all we've been talking about, right? The values we're talking about are ones that we all hold dear. Hard work should be rewarded -- that's how we were raised, that everyone in this country has something special and valuable to contribute, and that we should all have a fair chance to succeed if we're willing to put that work in -- which we are.

And today, I want to thank all of you -- all of you and so many more. There are women all over this country who are doing that work, playing that critical role in making that vision a reality. Because we have to work for that vision, women. It just doesn't happen. And I want to thank you for everything that you've been doing every day to lift up our communities and to move this country forward -- and make sure that all of our children have opportunities worthy of their promise, right?

And whether it's investing in our schools, whether it's signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act to help women get equal pay for equal work -- (applause) -- whether it's passing health reform so that all of our families can get the care they deserve, my husband and his partner, Joe Biden, have had our backs as women every single day. Every single day. (Applause.)

And I know that my husband has fought these battles not just as President -- I said this in my speech -- he's fought them as a son, as a grandson, as a husband, and as the father of our two amazing daughters. (Applause.) So Barack understands the challenges women face. I think that's been made abundantly clear.

And we know that he will keep fighting every single day to ensure that all of our daughters have no limits to their dreams. That's over. (Applause.) That there are no second-class citizens in our workplace -- that's got to be over. That we as women can make our own decisions about our bodies and about our health care -- that is over. (Applause.)

And that's why I know all of you are here today -- because you know that all of that and so much more, it's on the line. It's all at stake this November. All those gains, all that struggle can be gone.

And I know that you're here because you believe, like I believe, that my husband has been an extraordinary President. (Applause.) And he has what it takes -- he's got the vision, he's got the character, the wisdom, the judgment, the courage, the experience to keep moving this country forward for four more years.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

MRS. OBAMA: Four more years. But one thing I've been reminding people -- just after the speeches and all of the excitement, that we can't forget that this election is about even more than the issues that are at stake right now. And it's about even more than the candidates that are on the ballot this year. This election more than any other in history is about how we want our democracy to function for decades to come.

Listen, it's about the lessons we want our kids and grandkids to learn as they watch these campaigns and they look on election night and see those results. And we need to step back and ask ourselves, here in America, do we want to give just a few individuals a far bigger say in our democracy than anybody else?


MRS. OBAMA: Do we want our elections to be all about who buys the most ads on TV?


MRS. OBAMA: Do we want our kids and grandkids to walk away from this election feeling like ordinary folks and their voices can no longer be heard?


MRS. OBAMA: Or are we going to show our next generation that here in America we all have an equal voice in the voting booth --(applause) -- and we all have a say in our country's future -- no matter how much we make, or what we look like, or who we love, that we're all equal when it comes to our democracy? (Applause.) Are we going to show them that a bottom-up, grassroots movement of people who love this country can still come together to move it forward? What are going to do? What do we want to teach our kids? (Applause.)

And make no mistake about it -- see, this is where you all come in, because with everything you do -- every call you make, every door you knock on, with every voter that you register, you all are providing the answers to those questions. Understand that. You all are making a powerful statement about how we want our democracy to work.

And by taking part in the democratic process that for more than 200 [sic] centuries has made America the greatest country on Earth. You all are helping to preserve that legacy for the next generations that take this stuff over.

So we don't have a minute to waste. That is the call to action. We don't have a minute to waste. We all need to work like we've never worked before. We need to do every single thing that we can. We need every single one of you out there every day between now and November 6th. You get me?


MRS. OBAMA: That means when you get up from those chairs and you walk out that room, the work begins. It continues for so many us. but for some of us, it will begin. And what you need to know is that we have a first-rate campaign -- we really do -- with offices all across this country. (Applause.) We have countless people who are volunteering, giving their time and their energy, taking time out of their busy lives.

We have many, many ways to volunteer and get involved. So if you aren't already involved in this campaign in a real, passionate way, start by going to barackobama.com. (Applause.) Just go there -- today. You can sign up. You can find out how to help. If you don't live in a battleground state, get to one. (Applause.) We all live near a battleground state if we don't live in one. Look around. This election is going to be won in those battleground states. If you can afford it, write a check. And if you haven't maxed out, max out. (Laughter and applause.) Now is the time. (Laughter.)

But more importantly than any of that, make sure that every single person that you know -- I mean, everybody that you know, everybody within the length of your influence, the touch of your hand, the sound of your voice -- your friends, your neighbors, that nephew you haven't seen in a while, that college roommate you haven't spoken to in decades -- now is the time. Pick up the phone. Call them. Make sure every single one of them gets to the polls and casts their votes on November 7th [6th.] (Applause.) That's what we need you to do.

Because here is your power -- understand your power. And these numbers really amaze me. Barack has said that this election is going to be even closer than the last one -- because all elections in this country are close. Let's just not forget that. They're always close. But like the others, this one could come down to those last few thousand votes in a single battleground state.

So let's put this in perspective. Let's think back to 2008 -- wonderful victory, right? (Applause.) Back then, we won Florida by about 236,000 votes. And while that might sound like a lot, understand that that is just 36 votes per precinct in that state -- 36 people in a precinct. That's how these numbers shake out.

And if you think that's close, don't forget that we won North Carolina by just 14,000 votes. Now, that's just five votes per precinct. You understand what I'm getting at? (Applause.) You understand how real these numbers -- how doable that is with focus?

And just think about this room. You all know somebody who is not registered to vote, not focused, doesn't understand the issues completely, doesn't know -- we all know those people. They're in our church. They're on our boards. They're our colleagues. They're our neighbors. They're in our -- they're in every aspect of our lives.

So starting the minute you get up out of your seats, we need you to get out there and get your 36 votes. Get your five votes. Just think about it. Get your five votes. (Applause.) We talk about it -- it takes one. Look at this room. (Applause.) Look at just this room. And if everybody is that focused between now and November 6th, if everybody who feels the passion of this convention and understands what's at stake is really willing to do that hard work -- reach out to the people in their lives and explain these issues, and understand what this election means for women, for our children, for our daughters, then we will win this.

But you have to do that. And you cannot stop until the polls close on November the 6th. (Applause.) Because what we do every day for the next 61 days is going to make the difference between waking up on November 7th and asking ourselves, could we have done more, or feeling the promise of four more years. That's the difference.

So let me just ask you, do you understand the charge?


MRS. OBAMA: Are you feeling fired up about the charge?


MRS. OBAMA: Are you feeling ready to go about the charge? (Applause.) Because if you haven't noticed, I'm pretty fired up and ready to go myself. (Applause.)

I look forward to seeing you all out there on the campaign trail. Let's get this done, women! (Applause.)

Thank you so much. We love you. God bless.

Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden to the Women's Caucus at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/320285

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