Michelle Obama visited the University of Mary Washington on Thursday, Sept. 13 speaking to an animated crowd that consisted of 2,400 students, faculty and Fredericksburg residents. The First Lady discussed education, women’s rights and the importance of Virginia as a swing state.
“We were delighted to have such a large turnout for Michelle Obama’s visit to the Fredericksburg campus,” said a University Relations statement. “As a public institution, the University maintains an open door policy to all candidates. We were excited to showcase UMW to the First Lady and the nation.”
The speech was part of a grassroots effort to gain momentum for the Obama campaign as the date of the presidential election moves closer.
Amalia Richards, a senior history major, spent two hours in line for a ticket to the event and another two hours to get into the Anderson Center.
“It’s nice to see it’s not just the school coming out, but also the community of Fredericksburg,” said Richards.
The First Lady focused on what her husband, Obama, has accomplished thus far in his four years as president.
“It’s something to admire that she goes out and supports her husband, but is still advocating what she believes in,” said Richards.
The First Lady began her speech by offering condolences to those involved in the recent attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya.
Michelle Obama then spoke to the crowd on the “American Dream” and the struggles she and President Obama’s parents faced while looking out for their children’s future.
“You see, our families simply weren’t asking for much,” said Michelle Obama. “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, you should be able to build a decent life for yourself, and an even better life for your children.”
The First Lady went on to say that each individual is supported by the community around them.
“No one gets where they are on their own…each of us has a community of people that lifts us up…from the teachers who inspire us to the janitors that keep our schools clean,” said Michelle Obama.
She discussed how important it is for the president to share the truth with his constituents, and how the country needs to make decisions that will lay the foundation for the next generation.
“As president, you need to truly be driven by the struggles, hopes and dreams of all of the people you serve…as president, you need a strong inner compass,” said Mrs. Obama.
The First Lady then focused on what President Obama has changed during his presidency so far, and the state the country was in when he inherited it. Michelle Obama praised her husband’s work in creating jobs, cutting taxes, pushing health care reform and bringing industry back to life.
“That’s [what] Barack faced on the day he won as president…but instead of pointing fingers or placing blame, he got to work,” said Michelle Obama.
The First Lady spoke on the importance of women’s rights, and how President Obama will allow women to make decisions about their own bodies.
“When it comes to understanding the values of women, when it comes to standing up for our rights and our opportunities, we know that my husband will always have our backs,” said Michelle Obama.
Education and raising voting awareness in students was a large part of Obama’s speech. She discussed how President Obama strives for every young person in America to get an education without receiving a massive debt in return.
“He wants all of our young people to have the skills they need for the jobs of the future, jobs you can raise a family on,” said Michelle Obama.
The First Lady stressed the importance of Virginia as a swing state, and stated that the upcoming election will be even closer than the 2008 election. She emphasized that the audience in the Anderson Center alone could swing an entire precinct.
“It all comes down to what will happen in a few battleground states, like Virginia,” said Michelle Obama.
The First Lady ended her speech by pushing for the audience, especially UMW students, to help the campaign and to make sure individuals are registered and will go out to vote on Election Day.
“From now until November, we need every single one of you to work like you have never worked before, talk to everyone you know…find them…tell them what’s at stake,” said Obama.
Robbie Clark, a senior geology major, feels the speech helped solidify his choice in the upcoming election.
“[Michelle Obama] was a really good speaker and it was a good speech,” said Clark.