Remarks by the First Lady at a Hillary for America Campaign Event at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
MRS. OBAMA: Well, hey there! (Applause.) You guys are pretty fired up, right? (Applause.) I like that. I like that. (Applause.) Wow.
Well, let me start, of course, because Hillary's mini tribute to me was -- it's taken me off of -- it's kind of thrown me a little bit. It was very generous. But I just want to take this moment publicly to thank Hillary. I mean, there -- it takes a level of generosity of spirit to do what Hillary has done in her career, in her life for our family, for this nation. (Applause.) And if people wonder, yes, Hillary Clinton is my friend. She has been a friend to me and Barack and Malia and Sasha, and Bill and Chelsea have been embracing and supportive from the very day my husband took the oath of office. (Applause.)
So I am grateful for Hillary -- for her leadership, for her courage, and for what she is going to do for this country. So it's going to be good. It's going to be good. (Applause.)
But I also want to take some time to recognize your former Senator, Kay Hagan, who is here. Kay, it's good to see you. (Applause.) And again, I just want to lend my voice to your outstanding Senate candidate, Deborah Ross. (Applause.) Man, Deborah -- as Hillary said, she's someone who cares deeply about the people in this state. And she is always going to put your families first. So let's make Deborah your next U.S. senator, all right? (Applause.) And let's make Roy Cooper your next governor, how about that? (Applause.)
Thanks also to all the members of Congress who are joining us, and your Mayor, Allen Joines. Thank you, Mayor. (Applause.)
But more importantly, thank you, to all of you, for taking the time, waiting in lines to be here today to help us support the next President and Vice President of the United States, Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine! (Applause.) I don't know about you but I'm fired up. (Applause.) We're going to make this happen.
Now, you may have noticed that I have been doing some campaigning for Hillary. (Laughter.) And I know that there are some folks out there who have commented that it's been unprecedented for a sitting First Lady to be so actively engaged in a presidential campaign. And that may be true, but what's also true is that this is truly an unprecedented election. And that's why I'm out here.
I'm out here first and foremost because we have never had a more qualified and prepared candidate for President than our friend, Hillary Clinton -- never before in our lifetime. I say this everywhere I go -- I admire and respect Hillary. She has been a lawyer, a law professor, First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, a U.S. Senator, Secretary of State. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
MRS. OBAMA: Yeah, that's right. Hillary doesn't play. (Laughter.) She has more experience and exposure to the presidency than any candidate in our lifetime –- yes, more than Barack, more than Bill. So she is absolutely ready to be Commander-in-Chief on day one. And, yes, she happens to be a woman. (Applause.)
This election is also unprecedented because I don't think we've ever had two candidates with such dramatically different visions of who we are and how we move forward as a nation. One candidate has a vision that's grounded in hopelessness and despair; a vision of a country that is weak and divided, where our communities are in chaos, our fellow citizens a threat. This candidate calls on us to turn against each other, to build walls, to be afraid.
And then there's Hillary's vision for this country that you just heard -- (applause) -- a vision of a nation that is powerful and vibrant and strong, big enough to have a place for all of us. A nation where we each have something very special to contribute, and where we are always stronger together. (Applause.)
That is the choice we face –- between those who divide this country into "us" versus "them," and those who tell us to embrace our better angels and choose hope over fear. And as we look into the eyes of our children as we send them off to school each morning and tuck them into bed at night, as Hillary said, the stakes in this election could not be more clear. And let me tell you, this is not about Republicans versus Democrats. None of that matters this time around.
No, no, no, this election is about something much bigger. It's about who will shape our children and the country we leave for them, not just for the next four or eight years but for the rest of their lives. (Applause.) Because as Hillary pointed out, we all know -- we know the influence our President has on our children -- how they turn on the TV and they see the most powerful role model in the world, someone who shows them how to treat others, how to deal with disappointment, whether to tell the truth. They're taking it all in.
And as Hillary said, when you've raised children in the White House, like Barack and Hillary and I have, you are reminded every day of the impact that you have. You start seeing the images of every child in this country in the face of your child. So when people wonder how Hillary keeps her composure through the overwhelming pressure of not just this campaign but of her career, or how Barack and I have dealt with the glare of the national spotlight these last eight years, that's the answer: With every action we take, with every word we utter, we think about the millions of children who are watching us who hang onto our every word, looking to us to show them who they can and should be.
And that's why, every day, we try to be the kind of people, the kind of leaders that your children deserve, whether you agree with our politics or not. (Applause.) And when I think about this election, let me tell you, that is what I'm thinking about. I'm asking myself, what do my girls, what do all our children deserve in their President? What kind of a President do we want for them?
Well, to start with, I think we want someone who is a unifying force in this country, someone who sees our differences not as a threat, but as a blessing. (Applause.) As Hillary said, we want a President who values and honors women, who teachers our daughters and our sons that women are full and equal human beings worthy, deserving of love and respect. (Applause.)
We want a President who understands that this nation was built by folks who came here from all corners of the globe -- folks who work their fingers to the bone to create this country and give their kids a better life. We want a President who sees the goodness in all our communities, not just the brokenness. Someone who understands that communities like the one where I was raised are filled with good, hard-working folks -– folks who take that extra shift, who work that extra job because they want something more for their kids. (Applause.)
And finally, we want a President who takes this job seriously -- (applause) -- and has the temperament and maturity to do it well. (Applause.) Someone who is steady. Someone who we can trust with the nuclear codes, because we want to go to sleep at night knowing that our kids and our country are safe.
And I am here today because I believe with all of my heart -- and I would not be here lying to you -- I believe with all of my heart that Hillary Clinton will be that President. (Applause.)
See, over the years, I've come to know Hillary. I know her -- not just her extraordinary professional accomplishments, but I know her personal values and beliefs. I know that Hillary was raised like Barack and I -- in a working family. Hillary's mother was an orphan, abandoned by her parents. Her father was a small-business owner who stayed up nights poring over the books, working hard to keep their family afloat.
So believe this, Hillary knows what it means to struggle for what you have and to want something better for your kids. See, and that's why, since the day she launched her campaign, Hillary has been laying out concrete, detailed policies that will actually make a difference for kids and families in this country.
As she said, she plans to make college tuition-free, to help young people drowning in debt. (Applause.) She is going to handle making sure that our climate is protected. (Applause.) And let me tell you this about Hillary -- she is involved and engaged in every policy issue that she's developed. You go on her website -- she's going to raise the minimum wage. She's going to cut taxes for working folks. (Applause.) She's going to do her best to help women get equal pay for equal work. (Applause.)
And if you want to know more just go on her website: HillaryClinton.com. Because here's the thing about Hillary -- thankfully, Hillary is a policy wonk. And let me tell you, when you are President, that is a good thing. (Applause.) Because policies matter. They really matter. They determine whether our kids have good schools, whether they can see a doctor when they're sick, whether they're safe when they walk out door on their way to school.
Policies matter. And that's why Hillary has fought so hard for children's health insurance as First Lady, for affordable child care in the Senate. That's why, as Secretary of State, she has gone toe-to-toe with world leaders to keep our kids safe. And that is why day after day, debate after debate, she has shown us such strength, such grace, refusing to be knocked down, refusing to be pushed around or counted out.
Hillary does all of this because she is thinking of children like her mother, children like her daughter and her grandkids -– children who deserve every chance to fulfill their God-given potential. That is why Hillary is in this. She is in this for us. She's in this for our families, for our kids, for our shared future.
So let me tell you, that is why I am inspired by Hillary. That is why I respect Hillary -- because she has lived a life grounded in service and sacrifice that has brought her to this day, that has more than prepared her to take on the hardest job on the planet. She has run an extraordinary campaign. She has built an impressive grassroots organization. She's raised the money. She's won all the debates. (Applause.)
So Hillary has done her job. Now we need to do our job and get her elected President of the United States. (Applause.) Because here's where I want to get real: If Hillary doesn't win this election, that will be on us. It will be because we did not stand with her. It will be because we did not vote for her. And that is exactly what her opponent is hoping will happen. That's the strategy -– to make this election so dirty and ugly that we don't want any part of it.
So when you hear folks talking about a global conspiracy and saying that this election is "rigged," understand that they are trying to get you to stay home. They are trying to convince you that your vote doesn't matter, that the outcome has already been determined and you shouldn't even bother to make your voice heard. They are trying to take away your hope.
And just for the record, in this country, the United States of America, the voters decide our elections. They've always decided. Voters decide who wins and who loses. Period. End of story. (Applause.) And right now, thankfully, folks are coming out in droves to vote early. It's amazing to see. We are making our voices heard all across this country. Because when they go low --
AUDIENCE: We go high! (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: And we know that every vote matters. Every single vote. And if you have any doubt about that, consider this: Back in 2008 -- I say this everywhere I go -- Barack won North Carolina by about 14,000 votes -- (applause) -- which sounds like a lot. But when you break that number down, the difference between winning and losing this state was a little over two votes per precinct. See, I want you all to take that in, because I know that there are people here who didn't vote. Two votes. And people knew people who didn't vote. If just two or three folks per precinct had gone the other way, Barack would have lost that state, could have lost the election.
And let's not forget, back in 2012, Barack actually did lose this state by about 17 votes per precinct. Seventeen. That's how presidential elections go. They are decided on a razor's edge. So each of you could swing, in this stadium -- just think about it -- each of you could swing an entire precinct and win this election for Hillary just by getting yourselves, your friends and your family out to vote, just doing what you're supposed to do. You can do this. (Applause.) But you could also help swing an entire precinct for Hillary's opponent with a protest vote or by not voting at all.
So here's what I'm asking you: Get out and vote. Get out and vote for Hillary. Vote early. Vote right now. Leave here, go vote. (Applause.) And don't let anyone take that right away from you.
As Hillary mentioned, you may have seen in previous weeks that folks were trying to cut early voting places, and cut the hours they were open. But that didn't stop people in this state. That's beautiful. Now, I understand there are more locations that are opening, and I want you all to crowd those places. I want you to remember that folks marched and protested for our right to vote. (Applause.) They endured beatings and jail time, they sacrificed their lives for this right. (Applause.) So I know you can get yourselves to the polls and exercise that right.
Because make no mistake about it, casting our vote is the ultimate way we go high when they go low. (Applause.) Voting is our high. That's how we go high: We vote. How do we go high?
AUDIENCE: We vote!
MRS. OBAMA: How do we go high?
AUDIENCE: We vote!
MRS. OBAMA: That's it. And after you vote, volunteer. No, no, no, no -- we need you to volunteer. Roll up your sleeves. Make calls. Knock on doors. Get people to the polls. It's turnout that's going to make the difference. We have to turn our people out. (Applause.)
Do not let yourself get tired or frustrated or discouraged by the negativity of this election. As you are out there working your hearts out for my girl -- (laughter) -- here's the thing that I just want to tell you all, because this has been a draining election. But I urge you to please, please be encouraged. I want our young people to be encouraged. Because we still live in the greatest country on Earth. We do. (Applause.) And I have never felt more hopeful about the future. And I want -- our young people deserve that. Be encouraged.
I feel that way because for the past eight years, I have had the great honor of being this country's First Lady. (Applause.) First Ladies, we rock. (Applause.) But I have traveled from one end of to this country to the other, and I have met people from every conceivable background and walk of life, including folks who disagree with just about everything Barack and I have ever said, but who welcome us into their communities. Remember, our neighbors are decent folks. These are all good people, who are open-hearted and willing to listen. And while we might not change each other's minds, we always walk away reminded that when it comes to what really matters, when it comes to our hopes and dreams for our children, we're just not all that different.
And I want you to remember that it's that part of us as Americans, it is that piece of us that is in all of us. That's what drives folks like Hillary's mother, who said to herself, I may not have grown up in a loving family but I will build a loving family of my own, I will give my children what I never had, I will pour my heart into raising a strong, smart, loving daughter. (Applause.) That's what drives people like my father, who kept getting up and putting in those long hours, who said, I may not have gone to college, but I'm going to keep working because maybe my son, maybe my daughter will. Because in this country, anything is possible. (Applause.)
As we walk away from this election, remember: That is what makes us who we are. Remember that. It's a country where a girl like me from the South Side of Chicago, whose great-great grandfather was a slave, can go to the finest universities on Earth. A country where a bi-racial kid from Hawaii, the son of a single mother can make it to the White House. (Applause.) A country where the daughter of an orphan can break that highest and hardest glass ceiling and become President of the United States. (Applause.)
That is who we are. That is what's possible here in America, but only when we come together. Only when we work for it and fight for it.
So that's why, for the next 12 days, folks, we need to do everything possible to help Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine win this election. (Applause.) Are you with me? (Applause.) Are you with me? I can't hear you! Are we going to do this? (Applause.) We're going to vote! We're going to vote early! We're going to stand in line! We're going to make our voices heard! No one is going to take away our hope! (Applause.) Let's get this done.
Thank you all. God bless. (Applause.)
Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady at a Hillary for America Campaign Event at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/320892