On the 20th anniversary of her marriage to President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama couldn’t help but share the qualities of her husband she grew fond of upon meeting him 23 years ago.
A crowd of more than 3,000 people gathered at the University of Nevada, Reno on Wednesday morning as the First Lady arrived in support of President Obama’s re-election campaign against Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Michelle said when she met Barack “he had everything going for him,” including being handsome, talented and intelligent. But, those were not even his best qualities.
“What truly made me fall in love with him was his character,” she said. “It was his decency, his honesty, his compassion and conviction. I loved that Barack was committed to serving others, that he turned down high-paying jobs and instead started his career trying to get folks back to work.”
As Michelle continued pointing out the finer points of her husband’s qualifications for re-election, she said her vantage point during the last four years allowed her to better understand a president’s role and the characteristics that make up a good president.
“(The Obama’s) have learned about citizenship and service, and that we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves. With our freedom comes obligation, and with our blessings come our duty to give back to others who have less,” she said. “As a First Lady I have seen up close and personal what being president really looks like and I have seen how those values are so critical to leading this country. Seeing how the issues that come across the president’s desk and how they are always the hard ones but I understand they are a part of the next generation.”
After stressing that the President’s values and characteristics have been on display since he took office in 2008, Michelle asked the audience to remember the economy of 2008. She said the economy “was on the brink of collapse” and the jobless rate was increasingly high. She then compiled a few achievements of the current president.
Though she admitted there was “a long way to go” concerning economic growth, she said President Obama restored the auto industry, brought 30 consecutive months of private sector job growth and created 5.1 million jobs in the United States.
University of Nevada, Reno junior Dezejuania Counts said she found it helpful to hear the First Lady recount some of the President’s accomplishments.
“It was very inspirational,” Counts said. “For people who maybe don’t follow political things, it was very informing because a lot of people don’t know all of the things Obama has done and how it is hard to change so much in only four years.”
Counts added that Michelle made her speech personal in order to connect with people in the audience and that the First Lady understands the hardships that people have endured.
Jazymn Ward, a sophomore at UNR, said she felt the highlight of the First Lady’s speech was an impactful statement about the “American Dream.”
The First Lady, after listing a few more accomplishments of President Obama, said, “Barack Obama knows the ‘American Dream’ because he’s lived it, and he is going to fight every day so that every single one of us in this country can have that same opportunity no matter who we are, what we look like or who we love.”
Ward said she felt as though the First Lady’s address at the UNR Quad was “a part of history in a way” and she felt lucky to be sitting so close to her in her seat behind the podium. She said the students at UNR “are the future” and that a visit from Michelle shows acknowledgement of that fact.
The First Lady finished addressing the UNR crowd by reminding them of the 34-day deadline to the start of early voting. She said this year’s election “will be closer than the last” and that Nevada, which she referred to as a battleground state, was won by Democrats in 2008 by 121,000 votes.
She said the margin may seem large, but amounted to about 69 votes per precinct. She urged the public to encourage others’ voter registration and added a reminder of the process of government.
“Real change takes time. It takes patience and tenacity,” she said, “But understand that if we keep showing up that eventually we get there. In America we always move forward. Elections are always about hope ... the same hope that we have for our own children and grandchildren. We want all of our children to have all the opportunities that we never had and have a real foundation for their dreams in this country.”