The President has an affinity for the spirit of Michiganders. It might be a Midwestern thing: valuing a hard day’s work, respecting your neighbor, plain talk, strong union values and most of all — spirit. The spirit to overcome all adversity. That’s the spirit of the Motor City and much of Michigan. So when POTUS spoke to a crowd of 6,012 at Wayne State University Saturday night, folks were pumped up. Some were seated, some were “standing on the basketball court shoulder to shoulder,” according to the White House pool reporter.
After the President gave a shout out to Democratic candidates Gary Peters and Mark Schauer, as well as lawmakers Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow, John Conyers, Sandy Levin, John Dingell and Debbie Dingell, he noticed, “We’ve got a full house. We’ve got folks fired up! We’ve got folks ready to go!”
President Obama got right to the heart of things, saying everyone needs to feel a sense of urgency about this election, and get their friends and neighbors to vote, because “Their vote could decide whether 28 million American workers get the raise they deserve. Whether American families continue to benefit from new health care coverage — because, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Obamacare works.”
And then he laid out his case for why folks need to put their hearts into getting out the vote, appealing to Midwestern care for your neighbor values by pointing out that in an election this close, your vote can mean the difference for the whole country.
Watch coverage of President Obama’s visit here via Fox Detroit:
The President made his case (partial White House transcript):
Three days. Three days, Michigan. Three days. Three days until you get to choose a new governor and a new senator. And here’s what you’ve got to do until then. If you came to this rally, I know you also are going to go vote or — I don’t worry about you. I need you to grab a friend. (Applause.) I need you to get some classmates. I need you to get some coworkers. I need you to knock on some doors and make some phone calls. (Applause.) I need you to visit Iwillvote.com, find your polling place. Take everybody you know to cast their ballots for Gary Peters and Mark Schauer. (Applause.) And then tell them to vote for Lisa Brown and Mark Totten and Godfrey Dillard and Warren Evans and Brenda Lawrence. Tell them to vote. Tell them to vote. (Applause.)
Let me tell you why.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you, too. But I want to tell you why you need to vote. (Applause.) This country has made real progress since the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. Over the past four and a half years, we have seen American businesses create more than 10 million new jobs. Over the past six months, our economy has grown at the fastest pace in more than 10 years.
So, look, here’s the bottom line. I know that, as I said, if you’re here you’re going to vote. I get that. But I want you to feel a sense of urgency these last three days. The biggest corporations don’t need another champion. The wealthiest Americans don’t need another champion. You do. (Applause.) Opportunity for a few is not what Michigan is about — opportunity for all is what built the middle class in this country.
So, look, Michigan, you’ve had my back twice. (Applause.) You’ve had my back twice. I love this state. But here’s the problem. In recent years, Michigan has led the nation in the number of voters who vote for President but then stay home during the midterms. According to one estimate, you got 900,000 folks in Michigan who voted in 2008 and then didn’t vote in 2010 — 900,000. I don’t know what’s going on with those folks. But we’ve got to let them know their vote matters.
THE PRESIDENT: Their vote could decide whether 28 million American workers get the raise they deserve. (Applause.) Whether American families continue to benefit from new health care coverage — because, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Obamacare works. (Applause.) Pretty soon they’re not going to call it Obamacare anymore. (Laughter.) You know that’s right. (Laughter.)
Obama reminded Michiganders to have the backs of the folks who had their backs when the auto industry was facing demise and Republicans wanted to let it die, “Now some of the folks who figured we should have thrown in the towel six years ago are the same folks who are asking you for your vote next week. They got a lot of nerve. They got a lot of nerve. If they’re not there for you when you need them — I think you should vote for Mark and Gary instead.”
The President closed with a case for being involved and not letting forces that want to take advantage of people create a dampening cynicism, “Hope is what defeated fascism. Hope is what gave young people the strength to march for civil rights, and voting rights, and gay rights, and immigrants’ rights, and women’s rights. Hope that there are better days ahead. Hope that we can rebuild our middle class and pass on to our kids something better. That’s what built America. That’s what Motor City is all about. That’s what built Michigan! Our best days are still ahead. Believe it. And vote for Mark, and vote for Gary. And let’s get out there and win this thing.”
The President is right about your vote mattering. This election is so close all across the country that in some states, it will come down to hundreds of votes making the difference. Imagine if someone in another state stayed home thinking this race didn’t matter, and then because of them, no one else gets the minimum wage raised or equal pay for women or supplemental food for poverty stricken children or assistance for our veterans.
Every person’s vote matters. Use your vote for to improve the opportunities of your neighbor and your country.
Image: Screen capture Fox Detroit
Disclosure: Wayne State University is my alma mater.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.