After waiting in long lines to receive their tickets Friday morning, and waiting in an even longer line to see Michelle Obama Monday, young and old Tallahassee residents filled the 12,500 seat Leon County Civic Center to hear the first lady speak.
“It looks like you guys are pretty fired up and ready to go,” cheered Obama. “And that’s a good thing because after the convention a couple of weeks ago, I’m pretty fired up and ready to go.”
Obama tailored her speech to fit the dominant college student presence. She visited Tallahassee after speaking to University of Florida students in Gainesville.
She began her speech by discussing how her family admired and strived for the American dream and the importance of extending opportunities by opening doors for others.
“We learned that how hard you work matters more than how much you make…We learned that no one gets where they are on their own. No one.”
She said that she witnesses the tough decisions President Obama makes and the issues he faces.
“I’ve seen how important it is to have a president who doesn’t just tell us what we want to hear, but who tells us the truth,” Obama said. “And I’ve seen that when it comes to making those tough calls and everyone is urging you to do what’s easy and what holds best and what gets good headlines.
She continued, “See, as president, you have to be driven by the struggles, hopes and dreams of all of the people you serve.”
The first lady then highlighted the president’s progress after he took office. She noted the stricter policies on lending abuses for people applying for mortgages and credits cards and lowered taxes for small businesses and middle class families.
Obama said under the president’s administration, there has been “30 straight months of private-sector job growth-right here in the United States of America.” A complete contrast to how the Republican presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney handled jobs during his time at Bain Capital when he outsourced jobs to China.
That led her to talk of the legislation that made up a bulk of Obama’s presidency: health care.
She said because of the Affordable Care Act, senior citizens pay less for their medication, young adults can stay on their parent’s health care until the age of 26, insurance companies cover preventative care like contraceptives and cancer screenings, and they can no longer deny people with pre-existing conditions.
Obama closed her speech by listing all her husband’s achievements and challenged the crowd to inform undecided voters what the president has done.
“Tell them about the millions of jobs Barack has created. Tell them about health reform being passed,” she said. “Tell them about those kids who can finally afford that college education. Tell them about how Barack ended the war in Iraq. Tell them about how we took out Osama bin Laden. Tell them about brave men and women who will never again have to lie about who they are.”
Following Obama’s speech, the crowd was still in campaign mode shouting, “Fired up and ready to go!”
Donald McKenzie, a third-year computer engineering student from West Palm Beach, Fla., said her speech touched him.
“I’m out her spreading the word about Obama and his platform, getting people registered to vote along with the [FAMU] Electoral Commission.”
McKenzie said his favorite part about Obama’s speech was the definition of what a true man is; much like President Obama, someone McKenzie aspires to be like one day.
Josue Aristyld, a junior music education student, said he was motivated by the first lady’s speech.
“It will help us realize where we are at right now and what do we have to do to get to where we want to be,” said Aristyld. “It is all about hope; it’s an atmosphere about being resilient, being enthusiastic, being motivated, and motivates us to be active and to not sit and wait for something to happen.”