Who You Are and What You Stand For
THE FIRST LADY: Oh, wow. Thank you guys. Wow. It sounds like you all are already fired up and ready to go. This is amazing. It is truly amazing. And you know what? Being here with all of you today...let me tell you: I'm feeling pretty fired up and ready to go myself. I really am. But there is a reason why we're here today. And–
[MAN IN CROWD]: We love you!
THE FIRST LADY: And we love you too! And it's not just because we support one extraordinary man. Although I'll admit I'm a little biased, because I think our President is awesome. And it's not just because we want to win an election. 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 all our children to have a good education, right? Schools that push them, and inspire them; prepare them for good jobs. 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.
We want to restore that basic middle-class security for our families, because we believe that folks shouldn't go bankrupt because they get sick. 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, truly, these are basic American values. They're the same values that so many of us were raised with, including myself. You see, my father was a blue-collar city-worker at the city water plant, and my family lived in a little-bitty apartment on the South Side of Chicago. And neither of my parents had the chance to go to college.
But let me tell you what my parents did do. They saved. They sacrificed. I mean, they poured everything they had into me and my brother. They wanted us to have the kind of education they could only dream of. And, while pretty much all of my college tuition came from student loans and grants, my dad still paid a little-bitty portion of that tuition himself. And let me tell you: every semester, my dad was determined to pay that bill right on time, because 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 responsibility to his family, to pay all of his bills, and to pay them on time. And, truly, more than anything else, that is what's at stake. 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. 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 husband has been fighting for every single day as President. Every single day.
And let me tell you something: as First Lady, I have had the chance to see, up-close and personal, what being President looks like. Right? I have seen how the issues that come across a President's desk are always the hard ones.
[WOMAN IN CROWD]: You're beautiful, Michelle!
THE FIRST LADY: But in all seriousness. These problems: they're always the hard ones. The problems with no clear solutions. The judgment calls where the stakes are so high and there's 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. That's all you have. 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 what Barack Obama is. Who he is. We all know what our President stands for, right? He is 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 a bus to her job at the bank. And even though Barack's grandmother worked hard to help support his family – and she was good at her job – like so many woman, she hit that glass ceiling, and men no more qualified than she was were promoted up the ladder ahead of her. So believe me: Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. He knows what it means when someone doesn't have a chance to fulfill their potential. And what you need to know, America: those are the experiences that have made him the man and the President he is today.
But I have said this before, and I will say it again and again: Barack cannot do this alone. And fortunately, he never has. We have always moved this country forward together. And today, more than ever before, Barack needs your help. He needs your help. He needs your help. He needs every single one of you. 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? And to all of the college students out there, all of you: if you're going to be moving over the summer, remember to register at your new address in the fall, you got that? Get that done!
Barack needs you to join one of our neighborhood teams, and start organizing in your community. And just let me say: if there have ever been any doubts about the difference that you can make, I just want you to remember that in the end, this all could come down to those few thousand people who register to vote. Think about it. It could all come down to those last few thousand votes who get out to the polls on November the sixth. And when you average that out over this entire state, it might mean registering just one more person in your town. It might mean helping just one more person in your community get out and vote on election day.
So know this – with every door you knock on, with every call you make, with every conversation you have – I want you to remember that this could be the one that makes the difference. This could be the one. Remember that. That is exactly the kind of impact that each of you can have. Now, I am not going to kid you: this journey is going to be long, and it is going to be hard. But know that that is how change always happens in this country. And if we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight, then eventually we get there. We always do. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but maybe in our childrens' lifetimes. Maybe in our grandchildrens' lifetimes.
Because in the end, that's what this is all about. That is 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 for it. So we just cannot turn back now, right?
We have come so far, but we have so much more to do. And if we want to keep on moving forward, then we need to work our hearts out for the man that I have the pleasure of introducing here today. Are you ready? It is my privilege to introduce my husband, and our President. President Barack Obama!
[CROWD CHEERS AS PRESIDENT ENTERS]
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Ohio!