Michelle Obama photo

Remarks by the First Lady at an Obama Victory Fund 2012 Fundraiser in Richmond, Virginia

May 05, 2012

MRS. OBAMA: Hello, Virginia! (Applause.) It sounds like you all are already fired up. It sounds like you all are ready to go. (Applause.) And let me tell you something. Being here with all of you today, I am feeling pretty fired up and ready to go myself. (Applause.) Now, there is a reason why we're all here today, in addition to being fired up and ready to go. And it's not just because we all support an extraordinary man. (Applause.) And I am biased. I think our President is magnificent. (Applause.)

And it's not just because we want to win an election -- which we do. (Applause.) We are here because of the values we believe in. We're here because of the vision for this country that we all share. We're here because we want our children to have good schools, the kind of schools that push them, the kind of schools that inspire them and prepare them for good jobs. (Applause.) That's why we're here. 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. (Applause.)

We're here because we want to restore that basic middle-class security for our families because we believe that folks in this country shouldn't go bankrupt because they get sick. (Applause.) We believe they shouldn't lose their home because someone loses a job. We believe that responsibility should be rewarded and hard work should pay off.

And the thing that we all know is that these are basic American values. They're the values that so many of us were raised with, including myself. (Applause.) I told this story earlier, but my father was a blue-collar worker at the city water plant. And my family lived in a very little apartment on the South Side of Chicago -- South Side! (Applause.) And neither of my parents had the chance to attend college, but let me tell you what my parents did do, which was just as important: They saved. And they sacrificed. And 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 while pretty much of all my college tuition came from student loans and grants -- (applause) -- you can relate to that -- my dad still paid a small portion of that tuition himself. And every semester, my father was determined to pay that bill on time -- because like so many parents, he 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, and to pay all of his bills and to pay them on time.

And truly, more than anything else, that is what's at stake in this election. 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 yes, an even better life for your kids, right? (Applause.)

And it is that promise that binds us together as Americans. It's what makes us who we are. And whether it's equal pay for women, or health care for our kids; whether it's tax cuts for middle-class families, or student loans for our young people --that is what my President, my husband, your President has been fighting for every single day. (Applause.)

And let me tell you -- as First Lady, I have had the chance to see up close and personal what being President looks like. I have seen how the issues that come across a President's desk are always the hard ones -- the problems with no clear solutions, the judgment calls where the stakes are so high and there is no margin for error. And as President, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, all you have to guide you are your life experiences, your values, and your vision for this country. (Applause.) In the end, when you're making those impossible choices, it all boils down to who you are and what you stand for.

And we all know who my husband is, right? (Applause.) And we all know what he stands for, right? (Applause.) See, Barack Obama, he is the son of a 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 her job at a bank. And even though Barack's grandmother worked hard to help support her 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 were promoted up that ladder ahead of her.

So believe me, Virginia, Barack Obama knows what it means when a family struggles. (Applause.) He knows what it means when someone doesn't have a chance to fulfill their potential. Those are the experiences that have made him the man, but more importantly, the President he is today. (Applause.)

But I have said it before and I will say it again and again and again: He cannot do this alone. And fortunately, he never has. He never has -- because we have always moved this country forward together. (Applause.) Yes we have. And today, more than ever before, Barack needs your help. He needs your help. He needs every single one of you to give just a little part of your life each week to this campaign.

He needs you to register those voters, right? (Applause.) And to all the college students out here, listen up -- (applause) -- if you all are going to be moving over the summer, remember to register at your new address in the fall. You got that? (Applause.)

Barack needs you to join one of our neighborhood teams and start organizing in your own communities. And just one thing I want you all to understand: If you have any doubt about the difference that you can make, I just want you to remember that in the end, this election could all come down to those last few thousand people who register to vote. It could all come down to those last few thousand folks who get out to the polls on November the 6th.

And when you average all of that out over this entire state, think about it -- it might mean registering just one more person in your town. Just one more person. It might mean helping just one more person in your community get out and vote on Election Day. Think about it. One more person.

So with every door you knock on, with every single call you make, every conversation, I want you to remember that this could be the one. This could be the one that makes the difference. (Applause.) And that is the kind of impact that each of you can have in this election. (Applause.) Know that.

Now, I'm not going to kid you. This journey is going to be long. And it is going to be hard. But that is how change always happens in this country. It's how it always happens. And if we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight, then eventually we'll get there. We always have. We always do. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but maybe in our children's lifetimes, maybe in our grandchildren's lifetimes -- because in the end, that is what this is all about. That's all it's about. (Applause.)

In the end, that's what I think about when I tuck my girls in at night. I think about the world I want to leave for them and for all of our sons and our daughters. I think about how I want to do for them what my dad did for me. I want to give them a foundation for their dreams. I want to give them opportunities worthy of their promise. I want to give them that sense of limitless possibility, that belief that here in America, there is always something better out there if you're willing to work hard for it. That's America. (Applause.)

So we can't turn back now. No, we can't! We have to keep moving forward. We've come so far. We have so much more to do -- so much more to do. And if we keep on moving forward then we need to work our hearts out, work them out, for the man that I have the pleasure of introducing here today. (Applause.)

Virginia, I introduce to you my husband and our President, President Barack Obama!

Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady at an Obama Victory Fund 2012 Fundraiser in Richmond, Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/320688

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