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Friday, October 19, 2012

 3:39 PM 

Michelle Obama: Americans pulling 'out of the hole that we started in'

RACINE -- First Lady Michelle Obama told an enthusiastic crowd at the Racine Civic Centre that her husband’s policies have brought positive change and progress in the past four years, urging voters to remember that, “Real change is hard -- it requires patience and tenacity.”

She said Americans “are slowly but surely pulling ourselves out of the hole that we started in.”

“While we still have a long way to go to completely rebuild our economy, let me tell you, there are more and more signs every day that we are headed in the right direction,” Obama said. “The stock market has doubled. Exports have grown by 45 percent. Manufacturers have added 500,000 jobs. Do you hear me? We have had 31 straight months -- most of this president’s term -- of private sector job growth, a total of 5.2 million new jobs created right here in the United States of America.”

In addition to focusing on creating jobs, the first lady -- noting that “a president has to be able to do more than one thing at a time” -- said Barack Obama has improved health care access, ended the war in Iraq, improved veterans benefits, helped young immigrants and ended the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy.

Each point was met with applause and cheers from the crowd, and Mrs. Obama was drowned out by chants of “Four more years!” as she said, “My husband is nowhere near satisfied. Barack, of all people, knows that too many folks in this country are still hurting. He, better than anyone, knows there is still plenty of work left to be done. And as President Clinton says, it’s going to take a lot longer than four years to (finish).”

Obama repeatedly reached out to the young people in the audience, telling them that in 2008, many young people told her their parents and grandparents hadn’t planned to vote for her husband until the students talked to them.

“When it comes to student debt, believe me, Barack and I have been there,” she said. “This is not a hypothetical for us. That is why Barack fought to double funding for Pell grants and (control) interest rates.”

The first lady also strove to appeal to women in the audience by describing how much the president admired his mother and grandmother. She said she was attracted to Obama as a young man because he turned down high-paying jobs to help people in poor neighborhoods.

The first lady said Wisconsin is a key battleground state and that the result in the Badger State could be decided by just few thousand votes.

“That could mean a handful of votes in every ward, or a single vote in your neighborhood or your dorm or your school,” she said.

Dem Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin warmed up the crowd prior to the first lady’s speech, saying the only way working class people can get ahead is by voting in Dem candidates who will "level the playing field."

"Work ethics haven't changed -- the rules have," the Madison congresswoman said to applause.

Baldwin also slammed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, saying he has never stood up to China but instead has profited from his "vast investments" in Chinese companies and in "firms that specialize in shipping jobs overseas."

"Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and Tommy Thompson won't take on China and they won't take on that fight on behalf of you," Baldwin said.

-- By Kay Nolan
For WisPolitics.com

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