Michelle Obama photo

Remarks by the First Lady at a Campaign Event in Henderson, Nevada

June 19, 2012

MRS. OBAMA: Yes! (Applause.) Whoa! Thank you so much. (Applause.) All right, I like it. You all are fired up, right? (Applause.) And ready to go. Four more years! (Applause.)

Thank you all so much -- you're so sweet. (Laughter.) Let me tell you, I am thrilled -- thrilled to be here today, truly. Let me start by just saying a few thank-yous. Let's begin with Theresa. Let's give her a round of applause for that wonderful introduction. (Applause.) And to all of our nurses here who are just making sure that we all keep it together. So let's give them all a round of applause. (Applause.)

And I know there were a few people who came on before me. I want to thank Wendy for getting everyone fired up. And I also want to thank Ashton, Erin, Helen*, Pastor Trujillo for their remarks earlier and for everything they're doing for our campaign. (Applause.)

And your Mayor -- good Mayor and your First Lady are here today. Mayor Hafen is here. I got a chance to meet them both. (Applause.) How are you? He's nice and tall, so we can see him. But where is your wife? She's smaller. (Laughter.) And she is here. (Laughter.) The State Party Chair, Roberta Lange, is here. (Applause.) And one of our good friends, Senator Steven Horsford and his family are here. (Applause.) He is going to make an outstanding member of Congress. They are a terrific family. We are so proud of them. (Applause.)

And finally, I want to thank all of you, because you all are extraordinary volunteers and organizers. Thank you for everything that you do, day in and day out, to make this campaign possible -- truly. I know it's warm in here, so you guys hang in there. But I know that you are doing all of the hard work -- you're knocking on those doors, you're making those calls. More importantly, you're registering voters all throughout the state.

And I want to thank you for giving folks the information they need about the issues they care about. And I want you to know, truly, that the grassroots work that you all are doing to get people focused and fired up -– that work is at the core of this campaign. It is truly what is going to make the difference. That's how we did it four years ago, and let me tell you, that's how we're going to do it again this time around as well. (Applause.)

And I say this to all our volunteers: I know that the work that you're doing, it is not easy. I know that you all are putting in those long hours. And I know that you're doing it in spite of your busy lives. I know that you all -- Amen -- have your own families to raise and your jobs to do. Many of you are finishing school, getting your education together.

But I also know that there's a reason why all of us are here today, and why we're doing this work. And it's not just because we support an extraordinary President, which we do -– my husband, I'm a little biased. (Applause.) And it's not just because we want to win an election -- although we do, and we will. (Applause.)

What we all have to remember, though, is that we are doing this because of the values we believe in. I say that everywhere I go. I remind people, it's about our values. We're doing this because of the vision for this country that we all share. Regardless of who we are, we share the same vision. We're doing this because we want all our children in this country to be able to go to those good schools. (Applause.) The kind of schools that push them. The kind of schools that inspire them and prepare them for the good jobs and the opportunities for the future. We want that for all of our kids.

We want our parents and our grandparents to be able to retire with dignity -– (applause) -- because we believe that here in America, after a lifetime of hard work, they should be able to enjoy their golden years -- really enjoy that time. (Applause.)

We're here because we want to restore that basic middle-class security for all of our families, because we believe that folks shouldn't go bankrupt because somebody gets sick. In America, people shouldn't lose their homes because somebody loses a job. No, not in America. We believe that responsibility should be rewarded, and that hard work should pay off. We believe that everyone should do their fair share, but play by the same rules. (Applause.)

And the thing that we know, everyone here and around the country -- these are basic American values. This isn't new. They're the values that so many of us were raised with, including myself. And I share my story everywhere I go because it makes me who I am. My father was a blue-collar worker at the city water plant, and my family lived in a little-bitty apartment on the South Side of Chicago. And my parents never had the kinds of educational opportunities my brother and I had. But growing up, let me tell you what my parents did do for us: They saved and they sacrificed everything. They poured everything they had into me and my brother, because they wanted us to have the kind of education they could only dream of. And look what they've done. (Applause.)

And like a lot of kids in this country who go to college, pretty much all my college tuition came from student loans and grants, right? How many people can relate to that? (Applause.) But my dad still paid a small portion of that tuition himself. And every semester, he was determined to pay that bill right on time. Because, see, my dad, Fraser, he was so proud to be able to send his kids to college, and he couldn't bear the thought of me or my brother missing a registration deadline because his check was late.

My dad is like so many people in this country. My father took great pride in being able to earn a decent living that allowed him to handle his responsibilities to his family. That's what gave him joy -- to pay all of his bills, and to pay them all on time. That's all he wanted. And truly, more than anything else, that is what's at stake in this election. (Applause.) We can't -- that's what we're working for.

It's that fundamental promise that no matter who you are or how you started out, in America, if you work hard, you can build a decent life for yourself -- yes -- and an even better life for your kids. That's what this is about. (Applause.) And what we have to know, it is that promise that binds us together as Americans. It's what makes us who we are in this country. It's what makes us special.

But now, from now until November, let me tell you something, Barack is going to need all of you out there, and telling everyone you know what's at stake. (Applause.) Tell them about these values that we share. Remind them about our vision, and about everything that's on the line in this election. That's what we need you to do.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We're fired up!

MRS. OBAMA: Be fired up. (Applause.) And I want you to start by -- just remind people how Barack fought for tax cuts for working families and small businesses. (Applause.) Those are the tax cuts he's been working to, because an economy that is built to last starts with the middle class and with the kind of folks who are creating jobs and putting people back to work.

Remind them how, back when Barack took office, this economy was losing an average of 750,000 jobs a month. That's what he inherited. That's what he walked into. But also let them know that for the past 27 straight months, this economy has actually been gaining private sector jobs, a total of more than 4 million jobs in just two years. (Applause.)

So while we still have a long way to go, we still have more work to do to rebuild our economy, let them know that today millions of people are collecting a paycheck again; millions of people like my dad are able to pay their bills again thanks to your President. (Applause.)

I also want you to tell people about everything that Barack has done to help folks avoid losing their homes to foreclosure. I mean, you can tell them that because of the programs he announced here in Nevada last year, families across this state have been able to refinance their mortgages, and keep their homes, and keep more money in their pockets each month. You've got to remind them.

You can also tell people about health care, and how, because of health reform, insurance companies will have to cover preventative care -- things like contraception, cancer screenings and prenatal care, and cover it without any additional cost. (Applause.) Remind people about that. People tend to forget.

Because of reform, let them know millions of our senior citizens have saved an average of more than $600 a year on their prescription drugs -- thanks to health reform. (Applause.)

And for the parents out there with college-age students, kids can now stay on their parents' insurance until they're 26 years old. (Applause.) And understand the effect: That is how 3.1 million more young people are getting the health care they need. So remind people about that.

You can tell people how Barack is working to raise standards in our public schools and to make college more affordable for millions of young people, so -- and his vision is that by the end of this decade, more Americans in this country will hold a degree than any other country in the world. That's the kind of vision we can all stand by. (Applause.)

But you also have to tell people how Barack has been fighting for the DREAM Act. (Applause.) And understand this -- he's doing this because he believes that it is time to stop denying citizenship to responsible young people just because they're children of undocumented immigrants. (Applause.) And just last week, this administration announced new measures to lift the shadow of deportation from many of these young people, who came here as children and were raised as Americans. (Applause.)

But while this is an important step, it is not a permanent solution. It is not. So Barack is going to keep fighting to get Congress to give these young people a real pathway to citizenship. That's the vision that this President has. (Applause.)

You can remind folks that Barack kept his promise to bring our troops home from Iraq. (Applause.) And you can remind them about how our brave men and women in uniform finally brought to justice the man behind the 9/11 attacks. (Applause.) And our troops no longer have to lie about who they are to serve the country they love, because Barack ended "don't ask, don't tell."

But I also want you to tell people that it's now easier for women to get equal pay for equal work -– (applause) -- and that's because of the first bill Barack signed into law as President of the United States, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The first thing he did as President of the United States. (Applause.)

But let people know why he signed this bill, why this was so important. Because he knows that closing that pay gap, that can mean the difference between women in this country losing $50, $100, $500 from each paycheck, or having that money in their pockets to buy groceries, and school clothes for their kids, and gas -- put gas in their car. Barack did it because when so many women are now breadwinners for our families in this country, women's success in this economy is the key to families' success in this economy. (Applause.)

And finally, don't forget to tell people about those two brilliant Supreme Court Justices Barack appointed, 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.)

Now I could go on and on and on. But it is warm in here. (Laughter.) And I love you too much to keep you standing up that long. (Applause.) But it's also important for people to remind folks that all of this and so much more is at stake this November. It's all 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 worked for to just slip away?


MRS. OBAMA: No! We know what we need to do. We cannot turn back now. We need to keep moving forward. We need to keep moving forward. And more than anything else, that's what we're working for. That's what it's all about -– it's the chance to finish what we started; the chance to keep fighting for the values we believe in and the vision we all share.

And that's what my husband has been doing every single day as President of the United States. And let me just tell you -- let me share something with you. Because, as First Lady, over the past three-and-a-half years, I have had the chance to see up close and personal what being President looks like. I know a little something about it now. And I have seen how the issues that come across a President's desk are always the hard ones -– the problems with no easy solutions; the judgment calls where the stakes are so high, and there is no margin for error.

And as President, you're going to get all kinds of advice and opinions from all kinds of people. That's for sure. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as President, understand, all you have to guide you are your life experiences. All you have to draw on are your values, your vision for this country. In the end, it all boils down to who you are and what you stand for. (Applause.)

And the reason why I am up here so passionate is because we all know who my husband is, right? (Applause.) We all know what Barack Obama stands for. (Applause.) He's the son of a single mother who struggled to put herself through school and pay the bills. That's who he is. He's the grandson of a woman who woke up before dawn every day to catch her bus to a job at a bank. And even though Barack's grandmother worked hard to help support his family, and she was good at her job, he watched -- like so many women, she hit that glass ceiling. And men no more qualified than she was were promoted up the ladder ahead of her.

So what I want everybody to understand about their President is that he understands what it means when a family struggles. That's not new to him. He knows what it means when someone doesn't have a chance to fulfill their potential. And let me tell you, today, as a father, he knows what it means to want something better for your kids. Those are the experiences that have made him the man and the President he is today. (Applause.)

So when you think about who you're going to work for, understand when it comes time to stand up for American workers and American families, you know what Barack Obama is going to do, right? (Applause.) When there's a choice about protecting our rights and our freedoms -- all of us -- 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 Obama because that is what he's been doing every single day as President of the United States. (Applause.)

That's why I'm here, and that's why I'm going to be out there. (Applause.) But I have said this before -- I have said it before, and I will say it everywhere I go -- Barack cannot do this alone. Barack needs you so fired up. He needs your help. He needs you to keep doing what you're doing. Keep making those calls, right? Keep knocking on those doors. Keep registering those voters.

And even more important, he needs you to multiply yourselves. No, I mean this -- multiply yourselves. Reach out to everyone you know -- friends, family, neighbors. Tell them to go to barackobama.com. Find out how they -- help them find out how they can get started just giving a little part of themselves each week to this campaign.

Multiply yourselves. Because as Barack said, this election will be even closer than the last one. That is a guarantee.

And if you have any doubt about the difference that you will make, I just want you to remember that in the end, this election is going to come down to those last few thousand people that you register to vote. Think like that.

It's going to come down to those last few thousand folks that you help get to the polls. That will make the difference. And I just want you to think for a minute about what these numbers can mean when they're spread out over an entire state. It might mean registering just one more person in your town -- truly. Understand this. It might mean just helping one more person in your community get to the polls on Election Day.


So please, with every door you knock on, with every event you host, with every conversation you have -- in the store, at church, in the pick-up line -- I want you to remember that this could be the one that makes the difference. And it can make the difference -- people having the right information about who their President is and what he has done.

That is the kind of impact each of you will have. Understand that. That's why we work so hard. That's why we're in this.

But I'm not going to kid you, this journey will definitely be long, and it is going to be hard. And there will be plenty of twists and turns along the way -- that is a guarantee. But we have to remember that is how change always happens in this country. But if we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight, fighting for the things we know are right, then eventually we get there. We always do, we always have.


MRS. OBAMA: Maybe not in our lifetimes, but here's the thing -- maybe in our children's lifetimes. Maybe in our grandchildren's lifetimes.

Because in the end, that's what this is all about. It's about them. And that's what I think about when I tuck my girls in at night. Every night when I leave them and I'm here, I think about them, and I think about the world that I want to leave for them and for all of our sons and daughters.

I think about how I want them to do -- I want to do for them what my Dad did for me. (Applause.) I want to give all our kids that solid foundation for their dreams -- all of them. I want to give them opportunities worthy of their promise -- because all kids have promise. I want to give them that sense of limitless possibility; that belief that here in America, there's always something better if you're willing to work for it.

So we cannot turn back now.


MRS. OBAMA: No, we can't turn back now. We have come so far, but we have so much more to do.

So let me ask you one last question: Are you all in?

AUDIENCE: Yes! (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA: No, no, are you really in?


MRS. OBAMA: Are you ready for this work?


MRS. OBAMA: Are you ready to roll up your sleeves? Are you ready to multiply yourselves?


MRS. OBAMA: You know what we're working for. You understand that vision, and it's a vision that everyone in this country shares -- you know it and I know it.

So let's get to work. I am so fired up.

Thank you all. God bless. (Applause.)

Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady at a Campaign Event in Henderson, Nevada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/320405

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