Hello, Wake Forest!
It is so great to be here in this beautiful city at this extraordinary time and to have a chance to be with so many, including the Wake Forest family. And it doesn't get any better than being here with our most, amazing First Lady, Michelle Obama. I want to take everyone who has filled this arena and I especially want to thank Dr. Hatch and the staff team and students at Wake Forest University.
I will never forget visiting here with the legendary Maya Angelou, one of the powerful voices our country has ever heard. So, I couldn't think of a better place to come back to with another woman whose voice we need now more than ever.
I want to say what I think is obvious but can't be said enough, and that is this may be one of the most, if not the most, important elections of our lifetimes no matter our age. But for young people it will be so consequential because every election is about the future, and this one is about whether we build on the progress we've made, the legacy that President Obama has built or rip it away and go backwards.
So we have a lot of work to do and I don't mean just in the presidential race. Let's be sure to elect Roy Copper the next Governor of North Carolina! He will always put the people of North Carolina first, and he will repeal HB2. Because he knows that discrimination is wrong, it's bad for business, and it is against North Carolina's values. And let's send Deborah Ross to the United States Senate! You know, she will be an independent voice for the working families of this state, and she will help break through the gridlock in Washington. And unlike her opponent, Deborah Ross has never been afraid to stand up to Donald Trump. And remember that it isn't just Roy's name and Deborah's name or my name that's going to be on the ballot. So much that we care about, so much that is at stake in the election is too. Voting rights are at stake, and if you care about this sacred right, and want to make sure that our leaders—of both parties—do their part to protect and strengthen it not chip away at it, you've got to vote in this election. And so I hope after all North Carolina has gone through with the effort to suppress some people's votes, you will turn out in the biggest numbers ever to say, "No. We demand the right to vote!"
And supporting our veterans is at stake. If you believe that America should stand with those who've served because they served us, then you've got to vote. And so, when you think about yourselves, your families, people you know who've wore the uniform of this country, the best way to make clear that we respect the military and we will do everything we can to make sure that they and their families have what they need as they sacrifice for us, is to show up and vote! You know, climate change is at stake. Now, I shouldn't have to say this in 2016 but I will, if you believe in science, right? And you know that climate change is real, and demands action right now, you've got to show up and vote in this election!
Immigration is at stake if you believe that we need to fix our broken system, keep families together and give people who love America a path to citizenship, you've got to vote! And you know marriage equality is at stake too. If you believe that everyone deserves to be treated equally in America no matter who they are or who they love, then you've got to turn out and vote in this election!
Good jobs that pay good wages are at stake. Investing in our roads, our bridges, and our water systems, and all the work that needs to be done in our country—that really matters. We can put millions of people to work and have a more competitive economy. That's why we've purposed a very large jobs program because I don't want anybody willing to work in this country not have a good job with a rising income to support themselves and their families. If you believe that, then you've got to come out and vote!
And particularly for all of the students here, affordable college education is at stake. Not only that, but relief from the student debt that you already have is at stake. So if you believe, as we do, that everyone should be able to afford to go to college and graduate and that everyone has a chance to pay down and pay off your debt, you've got to get out and vote in this election!
You know, dignity for women and girls. Again I wish I didn't have to say this, right? But indeed dignity and respect for women and girls is also on the ballot in this election. I want to thank our First Lady for her eloquent, powerful defense of that basic value.
I think you're getting the idea here that I believe that everything we care about is at stake in this election. So, you've got to vote and to get your friends, and your families, and your neighbors to vote too. Don't just take it from me, because I think you've heard some really compelling voices say the same thing. And one of those voices is here today.
There are so many things that I admire about our First Lady. You know Michelle reminds us to work hard, stay true to our values, be good to one another, and never ever stop fighting for what we believe in. She has spent eight years as our First Lady advocating for girls around the world to go to school and have the same opportunities as boys. She has worked for healthier childhoods for our kids here at home, better nutrition, more exercise, and we're seeing the results. We are actually seeing kids who are healthier-- something that she was determined to try to achieve. She's encouraged more young people to go to college and to follow your dreams. And she has supported America's military families who serve and sacrifice, as well for our country.
It hasn't been all hard work. She played a mean round of Carpool Karaoke. Among many of the real privileges that I've had to see the President and First Lady dance. Wow, one can only hope. Now she also planted an amazing vegetable garden at the White House. And I can promise you, if I win, I will take good care of it, Michelle. Boy, didn't she wow and dazzle with that wise and beautiful speech at the Democratic National Convention this summer?
You know, now I've stood on the debate stage for four and a half hours with Donald Trump. Any of you see any of those debates? That has proved once and for all that I have the stamina to be the President and Commander in Chief. But there were times during those three debates, where I tell you, the loop running in my head was what Michelle said to us at the convention, right, "When they go low, we go high!" And on top of all of this, just by being herself every day, never missing an opportunity to honor her parents for the hard work and sacrifice that set her on her way, she has shown every little girl and boy in America that there are no limits to what they can achieve if they work hard, and do right, and believe in themselves.
Seriously, is there anyone more inspiring than Michelle Obama? Maybe it is especially meaningful to me because I do know something about being the First Lady of the United States. And, you know, I'm going to state the obvious it's not easy. You've got so many people counting on you. You've got the eyes of the world on you. And when you are trying to raise your children, like she is and I did, and give them the space and support they need to have as normal and as safe and fulfilling childhoods as possible, that makes it even harder.
I used to hang out in the hallway of the second floor in the White House around the time Chelsea would come home from school just to be sure that I got to see her and see what happened that day, to see what I needed to be thinking about and doing for her. Let's be real, as our first African-American First Lady, she's faced pressures that I never did. She's handled them with pure grace. By any standard she has been an outstanding First Lady who has made us all so proud. She and the President, she and the President, have been such wonderful friends to me and my family. It has meant the world, the world, to me. It really has.
I just want to say one more thing about the First Lady's work. I mentioned military families, she's been their fierce champion. Military families have come up against a lot this election. It just made me boil when Donald Trump disrespected a Gold Star Family-- Mr. and Mrs. Khan. He still hasn't apologized to them. He actually made it worse. Just yesterday, he said again, that if America had only made him President years ago their son, Captain Khan, would still be alive. Honestly, I don't know how anyone would want to rub salt in the wounds of a grieving family. And he keeps insulting our military. Yesterday when he heard that a retired Army Colonel and former Dean of the Army War College, said that Donald doesn't understand military strategy Trump said, "I'll teach him a couple of things." Well Donald, you're the one who's got a lot to learn about the military and everything else that makes America great. Starting by learning about the dignity and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and their families. He should learn from Michelle Obama how a leader should support them not disrespect them.
No one knows more about what's at stake in this election than our First Lady. Because all of the progress that we've achieved under President Obama's leadership is at stake. He pulled our economy out of biggest ditch that it was in when he became President. He saved the auto industry, he cracked down on Wall Street, he has tackled health care, education, climate change, civil rights, and so much else. All of the work that we've done to strengthen our relationships with other countries, and secure our leadership in the world is also at stake.
I for one, and I hope all of you, do not want that hard work by our President and our First Lady and millions of Americans to be wiped away. We cannot let that happen. We've got to do everything in our power to get everyone out to vote, to understand that no matter what issue you care about it truly is on the ballot.
This has been a hard election. At times it's gotten pretty ugly, hasn't it? And we've all felt it, especially kids. I hear this from parents and children across our country. Kids write me notes. They had me little cards and notes when I shake hands with them. Their parents write me, teachers talk to me—kids are scared. Kids are scared by the rhetoric they are hearing, right? I see the educator's heads nodding. Little girls hear the ugly things that have been said about women in this campaign and it makes them feel terrible and doubt themselves.
That's why it is important for voices, like our First Lady's, to stand up and say, "Wait a minute. Respecting girls and women is important." And it is especially important to send that message to our children—boys and girls alike. Our kids are actually scared that they are going to be sent out of the country because their parents are immigrants or they're immigrants. They're scared if they are Muslim or they have a disability.
I got a letter from a parent, a mom-- it was Constance I think-- that adopted her son, Felix, from Ethiopia when he was a toddler. He just turned 11 years old. He wrote my campaign to let me know that he was now 11 years old. I love when little kids do little birthday remembrances. America is the only country he has ever known, and one day he turned to his mom and asked, "If Donald Trump is becomes President, is he going to make me go back to Ethiopia?" Now that, honestly, breaks my heart.
We've got to let all of our kids know that America has a place for you. The American Dream is big enough for you. And then we've got to make sure that they all learn the right lessons about how to treat people. I saw that sign and "I believe in love and kindness." Right?
Well here's one place to start: we know that bullying is a real problem in our classrooms, and playgrounds, and online. Teachers have reported that this election has made it worse. I want you to know that we're going to launch a major, new effort to help states and communities and schools and families end bullying wherever it takes place. And we will work together to make the internet a safer space for kids. Invest in frontline professionals, like guidance counselors and social workers and school nurses and psychologists, to support kids who've been targeted—like the young women I met in Iowa who told me that she was bullied because of her asthma. This has got to stop. And I can't think of anything more important than making sure that every single one of our children knows they are loved just as they are.
Ultimately, my friends, Michelle reminds us that this election is about our kids—and in my case, my grandkids. Their lives and their futures. Nothing is more important to me than that. I've been fighting for kids throughout my career. I will fight for them every single day of my Presidency. So we have a job to do. Starting right now let's come together, let's work together, and let's be hopeful and optimistic and unified in the face of division and hate. Bring people together in mutual respect to solve shared challenges. Let's have each other's backs. Lift each other up, not tear each other down. Let's go out and win this election to make sure we do exactly that! For Roy Cooper, for Deborah Ross, and all of us! Let's make sure you vote early! Vote as soon as you can! Vote this afternoon! I'm excited to see what's going to happen here in North Carolina! And I'm so excited to be introducing our amazing First Lady, Michelle Obama!