Michelle Obama photo

Remarks by the First Lady to the African American Caucus at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina

September 05, 2012

MRS. OBAMA: Hey! (Applause.) I'm a little sleepy. (Laughter.) But I am so thrilled to be here with all of you today, this morning! (Applause.) Thank you so much.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Michelle!

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

Let me start by thanking Virgie for that very kind and rousing introduction, and for her outstanding leadership. So let's give her a round of applause. (Applause.)

So how about that opening night, huh? Yes. (Applause.) I don't know about you, but the energy, the enthusiasm that we saw last night made it clear that folks are pretty fired up. (Applause.) But more importantly, last night truly set the stage for what's at stake in this election and what we need to guide us forward for the next four years.

The evening reflected Barack's broad and inclusive vision for this country as a place where every single one of us has something special to contribute, and we should all have a chance to make it in this country if we're willing to work for it.

And today, I really want to thank all of you, truly, for the critical role that you all play in making that vision a reality -- the stuff you are doing every day. I want to thank you for everything that you're doing every single day to lift up our communities and to ensure that all of our children have opportunities worthy of their promise, because what we know is that all of our children are worthy -- all of them. (Applause.)

And whether it's building good schools that prepare our kids for good jobs, whether it's passing health reform so families don't go broke because someone gets sick, whether it's cutting taxes for working folks, cracking down on credit abusers, payday lenders who are preying on our families -- my husband has been working hard every single day to ensure that we all can share in the promise of this great country.

And I know that's why all of you are here today. Because you know that all of that and so much more, it's all at stake this election. And you're here today because you believe, like I believe, that my husband has been an extraordinary President. (Applause.) And more importantly, he has the vision, the character, the wisdom, the judgment, the heart, the soul, the experience to keep moving this country forward for four more years. We know that. (Applause.)

But really, the thing I want to emphasize is that, make no mistake about it, this election is about even more than the issues at stake right now. Truly, it's even more -- about more than the candidates that are on the ballot this year. Because this election, more than any other in history, is about how we want our democracy to function for decades to come. It's about the lessons that we want to teach our kids and our grandkids; what we want them to learn as they watch these campaigns and they see those results on November 6th.

And we need to step back and ask ourselves, do we want to give a few individuals a far bigger say in our democracy than anyone else? Do we want our elections to be about who buys the most ads on TV?


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

Or are we going to show our kids 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, and a bottom-up, grassroots movement of people who love this country can always together -- come together to move it forward?

And make no mistake about it, with every call you all are making out there, with the work you're doing, with every door you knock on, with every voter you register, you all are providing the answers to those questions. 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 two centuries, has made America the greatest country on Earth, you all are helping to preserve that legacy for generations to come. So understand that that's what this is about, too.

So we don't have a single minute to waste -- not a single minute. We are going to need all of you to get out there and work like you've never worked before. We need every single one of you out there every single day -- really, listen to me: every single day -- from now until November the 6th. (Applause.)

And I've been traveling around the country. I've been out there. I'm going to be out there. But let me tell you, we have got a first-rate campaign. We have got thousands of offices all over this country. We have millions of volunteers. Let me tell you, we've got folks out there, and so many ways for people to get involved. So if you're wondering, how do I get involved in this? What do I do tomorrow when I leave here? Go to barackobama.com -- that's the first step. Go there; sign up to get involved if you're not already involved. (Applause.)

And if you don't live in a battleground state -- because this election is about battleground victories. (Applause.) So if you don't live in a battleground state, get to one. (Applause.) Right? Find the nearest battleground state and go spend some time there. You can even make calls from your home to battleground states through our campaign.

If you can afford it, write a check -– and if you haven't maxed out, max out. (Laughter and applause.)

But most importantly, make sure that every single person that you know that is within the sound of your voice, your touch, your breath, make sure you get to them -- your friends, your neighbors, that nephew you haven't seen for a while, that college roommate you haven't spoken to in decades, your congregation member, the lady down the street, the person on the board. Anybody who is sitting around wondering, what am I going to do this election? Find them. Make sure every single one of them is registered and gets to the polls and casts their vote on November the 6th. (Applause.)

Because what we have to remember, like all elections -- elections in this country are always close, but as Barack has said, this election is going to be even closer than the last one. And this is what -- I try to put it in perspective to help people understand just how much power we have as individuals. In the end, this election could come down to just a few thousand votes in a single battleground state, all right?

So just think about what happened in 2008. We won, but let's just look at some of the numbers. Back then, we won Florida by 236,000 votes. (Applause.) And understand -- Florida! (Applause.) We're going to do it again, Florida. But while that might sound like a lot, that's just 36 votes per precinct. Understand -- 36 votes!

And if you think that's close, don't forget that we won North Carolina -- (applause) -- by just 14,000 votes. Now, that's just five votes per precinct. That's right, five! Five people!

So starting the minute you get up from these seats, we need you to get out there and get your 36 people. Find your five votes. (Applause.) And then find five more, and five more after that, and don't stop until the polls close on November the 6th.

Because what you do every day for the next 62 days will make the difference between waking up on November the 7th and asking yourself, "Could I have done more?", or feeling the promise of four more years. (Applause.)

So never underestimate the power of what you can do as an individual. Because in the midst of all this sometimes we think, what can I do? What difference will my involvement make? Everybody in here knows five people who aren't involved, aren't registered to vote, not focused, a little confused about what the issues are. We all know those people. And we all have a moment [role] to play, and that's where all of you come in.

So I have to know: Are you fired up? (Applause.) Are you ready to go? (Applause.) Let me tell you, I am so fired up. Can you tell? (Applause.) I am so ready to go, because this is about our future. This is about our sons and our daughters. And as I said last night, it's about the world we want to leave for them long after we're gone.

So we're going to have to roll up our sleeves! Roll them up. Get it done. Sixty-two days is nothing. But if we have all of you and everyone you know, we will get this done. We will get this done and we'll have four more years to move this country forward.

Thank you all so much. God bless. (Applause.)

Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady to the African American 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/320294

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