Full Transcript: Michelle Obama's Democratic Convention Speech #DNC2012

Michelle Obama Speech Text: Read
The First Lady's Democratic
Convention Speech
September 4, 2012 22:39:00
Michelle Obama delivered her speech to the
Democratic National Convention on
Tuesday night.
Below, the first lady's remarks as prepared
for delivery.
Over the past few years as First Lady, I
have had the extraordinary privilege of
traveling all across this country.
And everywhere I’ve gone, in the
people I’ve met, and the stories I’ve
heard, I have seen the very best of the
American spirit.
I have seen it in the incredible kindness
and warmth that people have shown
me and my family, especially our girls.
I’ve seen it in teachers in a near-
bankrupt school district who vowed to
keep teaching without pay.
I’ve seen it in people who become
heroes at a moment’s notice, diving
into harm’s way to save others…flying
across the country to put out a fire…
driving for hours to bail out a flooded
And I’ve seen it in our men and women
in uniform and our proud military
families…in wounded warriors who tell
me they’re not just going to walk
again, they’re going to run, and they’re
going to run marathons…in the young
man blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan
who said, simply, “…I’d give my eyes
100 times again to have the chance to
do what I have done and what I can still
Every day, the people I meet inspire
me…every day, they make me proud…
every day they remind me how blessed
we are to live in the greatest nation on
Serving as your First Lady is an honor
and a privilege…but back when we first
came together four years ago, I still
had some concerns about this journey
we’d begun.
While I believed deeply in my
husband’s vision for this country…and I
was certain he would make an
extraordinary President…like any
mother, I was worried about what it
would mean for our girls if he got that
How would we keep them grounded
under the glare of the national
How would they feel being uprooted
from their school, their friends, and the
only home they’d ever known?
Our life before moving to Washington
was filled with simple joys…Saturdays
at soccer games, Sundays at grandma’s
house…and a date night for Barack and
me was either dinner or a movie,
because as an exhausted mom, I
couldn’t stay awake for both.
And the truth is, I loved the life we had
built for our girls…I deeply loved the
man I had built that life with…and I
didn’t want that to change if he became
I loved Barack just the way he was.
You see, even though back then Barack
was a Senator and a presidential
candidate…to me, he was still the guy
who’d picked me up for our dates in a
car that was so rusted out, I could
actually see the pavement going by
through a hole in the passenger side
door…he was the guy whose proudest
possession was a coffee table he’d
found in a dumpster, and whose only
pair of decent shoes was half a size too
But when Barack started telling me
about his family – that’s when I knew I
had found a kindred spirit, someone
whose values and upbringing were so
much like mine.
You see, Barack and I were both raised
by families who didn’t have much in
the way of money or material
possessions but who had given us
something far more valuable – their
unconditional love, their unflinching
sacrifice, and the chance to go places
they had never imagined for
My father was a pump operator at the
city water plant, and he was diagnosed
with Multiple Sclerosis when my
brother and I were young.
And even as a kid, I knew there were
plenty of days when he was in pain…I
knew there were plenty of mornings
when it was a struggle for him to
simply get out of bed.
But every morning, I watched my father
wake up with a smile, grab his walker,
prop himself up against the bathroom
sink, and slowly shave and button his
And when he returned home after a
long day’s work, my brother and I
would stand at the top of the stairs to
our little apartment, patiently waiting
to greet him…watching as he reached
down to lift one leg, and then the other,
to slowly climb his way into our arms.
But despite these challenges, my dad
hardly ever missed a day of work…he
and my mom were determined to give
me and my brother the kind of
education they could only dream of.
And when my brother and I finally
made it to college, nearly all of our
tuition came from student loans and
But my dad still had to pay a tiny
portion of that tuition himself.
And every semester, he was
determined to pay that bill right on
time, even taking out loans when he
fell short.
He was so proud to be sending his kids
to college…and he made sure we never
missed a registration deadline because
his check was late.
You see, for my dad, that’s what it
meant to be a man.
Like so many of us, that was the
measure of his success in life – being
able to earn a decent living that
allowed him to support his family.
And as I got to know Barack, I realized
that even though he’d grown up all the
way across the country, he’d been
brought up just like me.
Barack was raised by a single mother
who struggled to pay the bills, and by
grandparents who stepped in when she
needed help.
Barack’s grandmother started out as a
secretary at a community bank…and
she moved quickly up the ranks…but
like so many women, she hit a glass
And for years, men no more qualified
than she was – men she had actually
trained – were promoted up the ladder
ahead of her, earning more and more
money while Barack’s family continued
to scrape by.
But day after day, she kept on waking
up at dawn to catch the bus…arriving at
work before anyone else…giving her
best without complaint or regret.
And she would often tell Barack, “So
long as you kids do well, Bar, that’s all
that really matters.”
Like so many American families, our
families weren’t asking for much.
They didn’t begrudge anyone else’s
success or care that others had much
more than they did...in fact, they
admired it.
They simply believed in that
fundamental American promise that,
even if you don’t start out with much, if
you work hard and do what you’re
supposed to do, then you should be
able to build a decent life for yourself
and an even better life for your kids
and grandkids.
That’s how they raised us…that’s what
we learned from their example.
We learned about dignity and decency
– that how hard you work matters more
than how much you make…that helping
others means more than just getting
ahead yourself.
We learned about honesty and integrity
– that the truth matters…that you don’t
take shortcuts or play by your own set
of rules…and success doesn’t count
unless you earn it fair and square.
We learned about gratitude and
humility – that so many people had a
hand in our success, from the teachers
who inspired us to the janitors who
kept our school clean…and we were
taught to value everyone’s contribution
and treat everyone with respect.
Those are the values Barack and I – and
so many of you – are trying to pass on
to our own children.
That’s who we are.
And standing before you four years
ago, I knew that I didn’t want any of
that to change if Barack became
Well, today, after so many struggles
and triumphs and moments that have
tested my husband in ways I never
could have imagined, I have seen
firsthand that being president doesn’t
change who you are – it reveals who
you are.
You see, I’ve gotten to see up close and
personal what being president really
looks like.
And I’ve seen how the issues that come
across a President’s desk are always
the hard ones – the problems where no
amount of data or numbers will get you
to the right answer…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, as
President, all you have to guide you are
your values, and your vision, and the
life experiences that make you who
you are.
So when it comes to rebuilding our
economy, Barack is thinking about
folks like my dad and like his
He’s thinking about the pride that
comes from a hard day’s work.
That’s why he signed the Lilly Ledbetter
Fair Pay Act to help women get equal
pay for equal work.
That’s why he cut taxes for working
families and small businesses and
fought to get the auto industry back on
its feet.
That’s how he brought our economy
from the brink of collapse to creating
jobs again – jobs you can raise a family
on, good jobs right here in the United
States of America.
When it comes to the health of our
families, Barack refused to listen to all
those folks who told him to leave
health reform for another day, another
He didn’t care whether it was the easy
thing to do politically – that’s not how
he was raised – he cared that it was the
right thing to do.
He did it because he believes that here
in America, our grandparents should be
able to afford their medicine…our kids
should be able to see a doctor when
they’re sick…and no one in this country
should ever go broke because of an
accident or illness.
And he believes that women are more
than capable of making our own
choices about our bodies and our health
care…that’s what my husband stands
When it comes to giving our kids the
education they deserve, Barack knows
that like me and like so many of you,
he never could’ve attended college
without financial aid.
And believe it or not, when we were
first married, our combined monthly
student loan bills were actually higher
than our mortgage.
We were so young, so in love, and so in
That’s why Barack has fought so hard
to increase student aid and keep
interest rates down, because he wants
every young person to fulfill their
promise and be able to attend college
without a mountain of debt.
So in the end, for Barack, these issues
aren’t political – they’re personal.
Because Barack knows what it means
when a family struggles.
He knows what it means to want
something more for your kids and
Barack knows the American Dream
because he’s lived it…and he wants
everyone in this country to have that
same opportunity, no matter who we
are, or where we’re from, or what we
look like, or who we love.
And he believes that when you’ve
worked hard, and done well, and
walked through that doorway of
opportunity…you do not slam it shut
behind you…you reach back, and you
give other folks the same chances that
helped you succeed.
So when people ask me whether being
in the White House has changed my
husband, I can honestly say that when
it comes to his character, and his
convictions, and his heart, Barack
Obama is still the same man I fell in
love with all those years ago.
He’s the same man who started his
career by turning down high paying
jobs and instead working in struggling
neighborhoods where a steel plant had
shut down, fighting to rebuild those
communities and get folks back to
work…because for Barack, success isn’t
about how much money you make, it’s
about the difference you make in
people’s lives.
He’s the same man who, when our girls
were first born, would anxiously check
their cribs every few minutes to ensure
they were still breathing, proudly
showing them off to everyone we
That’s the man who sits down with me
and our girls for dinner nearly every
night, patiently answering their
questions about issues in the news, and
strategizing about middle school
That’s the man I see in those quiet
moments late at night, hunched over
his desk, poring over the letters people
have sent him.
The letter from the father struggling to
pay his bills…from the woman dying of
cancer whose insurance company won’t
cover her care…from the young person
with so much promise but so few
I see the concern in his eyes...and I
hear the determination in his voice as
he tells me, “You won’t believe what
these folks are going through,
Michelle…it’s not right. We’ve got to
keep working to fix this. We’ve got so
much more to do.”
I see how those stories – our collection
of struggles and hopes and dreams – I
see how that’s what drives Barack
Obama every single day.
And I didn’t think it was possible, but
today, I love my husband even more
than I did four years ago…even more
than I did 23 years ago, when we first
I love that he’s never forgotten how he
I love that we can trust Barack to do
what he says he’s going to do, even
when it’s hard – especially when it’s
I love that for Barack, there is no such
thing as “us” and “them” – he doesn’t
care whether you’re a Democrat, a
Republican, or none of the above…he
knows that we all love our country…and
he’s always ready to listen to good
ideas…he’s always looking for the very
best in everyone he meets.
And I love that even in the toughest
moments, when we’re all sweating it –
when we’re worried that the bill won’t
pass, and it seems like all is lost –
Barack never lets himself get
distracted by the chatter and the noise.
Just like his grandmother, he just keeps
getting up and moving forward…with
patience and wisdom, and courage and
And he reminds me that we are playing
a long game here…and that change is
hard, and change is slow, and it never
happens all at once.
But eventually we get there, we always
We get there because of folks like my
Dad…folks like Barack’s grandmother…
men and women who said to
themselves, “I may not have a chance
to fulfill my dreams, but maybe my
children will…maybe my grandchildren
So many of us stand here tonight
because of their sacrifice, and longing,
and steadfast love…because time and
again, they swallowed their fears and
doubts and did what was hard.
So today, when the challenges we face
start to seem overwhelming – or even
impossible – let us never forget that
doing the impossible is the history of
this nation…it’s who we are as
Americans…it’s how this country was
And if our parents and grandparents
could toil and struggle for us…if they
could raise beams of steel to the sky,
send a man to the moon, and connect
the world with the touch of a button…
then surely we can keep on sacrificing
and building for our own kids and
And if so many brave men and women
could wear our country’s uniform and
sacrifice their lives for our most
fundamental rights…then surely we can
do our part as citizens of this great
democracy to exercise those rights…
surely, we can get to the polls and
make our voices heard on Election Day.
If farmers and blacksmiths could win
independence from an empire…if
immigrants could leave behind
everything they knew for a better life
on our shores…if women could be
dragged to jail for seeking the vote…if
a generation could defeat a depression,
and define greatness for all time…if a
young preacher could lift us to the
mountaintop with his righteous dream…
and if proud Americans can be who
they are and boldly stand at the altar
with who they love…then surely, surely
we can give everyone in this country a
fair chance at that great American
Because in the end, more than anything
else, that is the story of this country –
the story of unwavering hope grounded
in unyielding struggle.
That is what has made my story, and
Barack’s story, and so many other
American stories possible.
And I say all of this tonight not just as
First Lady…and not just as a wife.
You see, at the end of the day, my
most important title is still “mom-in-
My daughters are still the heart of my
heart and the center of my world.
But today, I have none of those worries
from four years ago about whether
Barack and I were doing what’s best for
our girls.
Because today, I know from experience
that if I truly want to leave a better
world for my daughters, and all our
sons and daughters…if we want to give
all our children a foundation for their
dreams and opportunities worthy of
their promise…if we 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…then we
must work like never before…and we
must once again come together and
stand together for the man we can trust
to keep moving this great country
forward…my husband, our President,
President Barack Obama.
Thank you, God bless you, and God
bless America.:

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.