Michelle Obama at DNC: 'How Hard You Work' More Important Than Income

First lady excites delegates with a speech about the president's values at the DNC.
3:00 | 09/05/12

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Transcript for Michelle Obama at DNC: 'How Hard You Work' More Important Than Income
-- -- -- mean do in a place like this. I'm not even a political person. But what I am is a military mom. MI. And and I are so proud of our five kids. -- needs in the army the navy. The airport -- and the marine. Dillon high school and -- we are hoping he will join the Coast Guard. They are moms most precious treasures. And I don't know what I'm going to get them together again because one of them is always deploying. But because of doctor Biden. And the First Lady our lives are a little bit easier. Along with President Obama they have made helping military families a top priority. They've brought together for the American people. Including thousands of businesses. To become part of -- nationwide support network. It is an honor and respect. In action. And it warms this mother's heart. Last December. I wrote Michelle Obama a Christmas card. Just a mom to mom note to say thank you for caring. The First Lady not only read my letter. She invited my -- -- -- -- to the White House. An amazing experience. But what's even more amazing is knowing that our commander in chief and First Lady. Are thinking about families like mine every single day. So. I'm not a political person. But I'm a mom. And if someone is they -- from my family and families like mine. Then all be there for them. That's why. I am so proud to introduce my fellow mom and our First Lady Michelle Obama. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Am. I think he. Am. I. I. And -- Start by -- Elaine Elaine thank you so much. We are are so grateful for your family service and sacrifice. We will always have your back. -- -- Few years as First Lady I have had the extraordinary privilege. Of traveling all across this country and everywhere I've gone in the people I've met. And the stories I've heard I have seen the very best of the American spirit. I've seen it in that the incredible kindness and warmth that people have shown me and my family especially our girls. I've seen it in in teachers in -- near bankrupt school district who vowed to keep teaching without pay. I had seen it in in people who become heroes at a moment's notice. Diving into harm's way to save others flying across the country to put out a fire. Driving for hours to bail out of flooded town. And I've seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families. -- They're not just going to walk again they're going to run and they're gonna run marathons. In the young man blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said simply. I'd give my eyes 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done and what I can still do. Every day. The people I need to inspire me. Every day they make me proud every day they remind me how blessed are we are. To live in the greatest nation on earth. Your First Lady is an honor and a privilege. But back when we first came together for years ago I still have some concerns about this journey we've begun. While I believed deeply in my husband's vision for this country and I was certain he would make an extraordinary president. Like any mother. I was worried about what it would mean for our girls if he got that chance to how we keep them grounded under the glare of the national spotlight. How would they feel being uprooted from their school their friends in the only home they'd ever known. See our life before moving to Washington. Was was filled with simple -- Saturday that soccer games. Sundays at grandma's house. And a date night for Barack and me was either dinner or movie because as an exhausted and I couldn't stay awake for both. And the truth is. I loved the life we had built for girls. And I deeply loved the man I had built that life would. And I didn't want that to change -- he became president. You see even back then. When Barack was -- senator in a presidential candidates need. He was still the guy who picked me up for our days in a car. That was so rusted out. I could actually see the pavement. Going by -- a hole in the passenger side door. The guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he found in a dumpster. And was only pair of decent shoes was a half size too small. But -- when when Barack started telling me about his family. See now and that's when I knew I had found a kindred spirit. Someone whose values and upbringing were so much like -- You see Barack and I were both raised by families who didn't have much in the way of money or material possessions but. Who had given us something far more valuable. Their unconditional. Love. Their unflinching -- five. I had never imagined for themselves. My father was a pump operator at the city water plant. -- he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when my brother and I were young. And even as a kid. I knew there were plenty of days when he was in pain. And I knew there were plenty of mornings when it was a struggle for him to simply get out of it. But every morning. I watched my father wake up with a smile. Grabbed his walker propped himself up against the bathroom sink in slowly -- and buttoning his uniform. And when he returned home after a long day's work my brother and I would -- stand at the top of the stairs of our little apartment. Patiently waiting to greet him. Watching his team reached down to lift one leg and then the other just slowly climbed his way into our arms. But despite these challenges. My -- hardly ever missed a day of work. He and my mom were determined to give me and my -- but. They could only dream. Finally made it to college nearly all of -- -- came from student loans and grants. But my dad still had to pay a tiny portion of that tuition and self. And every semester he was determined to pay that bill right on time even taking out loans when he fell short. He was so proud. To be sending his kids to college and he made sure we never missed a registration deadline because his check was late. You see for my dad. That's what it meant to be a man. Success in life. Being able to earn a decent living that allowed him to support his family. And and as I got to know Barack I realize that even though he had grown up all the way across the country. He'd been brought up just like me. Brock was raised by a single mom who struggle to pay the bills and by grandparents who stepped in when she needed help. Barack's grandmother. Started out as a secretary at a community bank. As she moved quickly up the ranks. But like so many women she hit the glass ceiling. And for years minute no more qualified than she was -- she had actually trained were promoted up the ladder ahead of her. Earning more and more money while -- family continued to scrape by. But day after day she kept on waking up -- Don to catch the bus. Arriving at work before anyone else. Giving her best without complaint or regret. And and she would often tell Barack. So long as you kids do well bear. That's all that really matters. -- like so many American families. Are families weren't asking for much. They didn't begrudge anyone else's success or care that others had much more than they did. In fact they admired him. They they simply believed in that fundamental American promise. That even if you don't start out. 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 kids and grandkids. -- -- -- -- -- -- From their example. We learned about dignity and decency. That how hard you work matters more than how much you make that helping others means more than just -- ahead yourself. Week we learned about honesty and integrity. That the truth matters. We take short. Fair and square. We learned about gratitude and humility. That so many people had a -- in our success from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean. -- Those -- the values that Barack and I am so many of you are trying to pass on to our own children. That's who we are. -- and standing before you four years ago. I knew that I didn't want any of that to change of Barack became president. Well today. After so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband ways I never could've imagined. I have seen firsthand. That being president doesn't change who you are no hit it reveals who you are. Personal what being president really looks like. And I've seen how the issues that come across -- president's desk are always the hard ones. -- of the problems we're no amount of data out or numbers will get you to the right answer. The judgment calls with the stakes are so high and there is no margin for error and his president you're gonna get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. But at the end of the day when it comes time to make that decision as president. All you have to guide you. Are your values and your vision and the life experiences that make you who you are. It comes to rebuilding our economy. The Rockies thinking about folks like my dad -- like his grandmother. He's thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day's work. That's why he signed the Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act to help. Working families and small businesses. And thought to get the auto industry back on its feet. Our economy from the brink of collapse to creating jobs again jobs you can raise a family on good job. Right here in the United States of America. When it comes to the health of our families but Iraq refused to listen to all those folks who told him to -- health reform. For another day. Another president. He didn't care whether it was the easy thing to do politically no that's not how he was raised. He cared that it was the right thing to do. Here in America. Our grandparents should be able to afford their medicine our kids should be Alicea doctor when they're sick. And no one in this country should ever go broke. Because of an accident or an illness. Women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and -- -- I. Giving our kids the education they deserve. Barack knows that like me and like so many of you he never. Could of -- -- college without financially. And believe it or not when we were first married are combined monthly student loan bill was actually higher than our mortgage. Yeah we we were so young so in love and so in -- And that's why -- rockets fought so hard to increase student aid. And keep interest rates -- So in the end -- For Barack. These issues. Aren't political. Their personal. Because Barack knows what it means one of family struggles he knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids. Barack knows the American dream because he's live did. And he wants. -- -- No matter who we are only. -- went from what we look like horrible we'd love. That when you've worked hard and done well. And and walk through that doorway of opportunity. You do not slam it shut behind you know you reach back. -- -- when people ask me. Whether being in the White House has changed my husband. I can honestly say that when it comes to his character and his convictions and his heart. Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago. And. Same man. Started his career. By turning down high paying jobs and instead working and struggling neighborhoods. -- steel plant it shut down fighting to rebuild those communities and get folks back to work. Because for -- Success isn't about how much money you make. It's about the difference you -- in people's lives. This same man. When our girls were first born. -- anxiously checked their -- every few minutes to ensure that they were still breathing. Proudly showing the -- -- every one we news. You see that's the man who sits down with me and our girls for dinner nearly every night. Patiently answering. Questions about issues in the news. Strategizing. About middle school friendships. That's the -- and I see -- in those quiet moments late at night. Hunched over his desk. Poring over the letters people let's send him. That the letter from the father struggling to pay his bills. For from the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company won't cover her care. From from the young people -- so much promise but so few opportunities. And I see the concern in his side's. And I hear the determination in his voice as he tells me you won't believe what these folks are going -- Michelle it's not right. We've got to keep working to fix this -- got so much more to do. -- -- Those stories. Our collection of struggles and hopes injury means. I see how that's what drives Barack Obama every single day. And I didn't think that it was possible -- let me tell you today I love my husband even more than I did four years ago even more than I -- It's -- -- thirty years ago when we first met. Let me tell you why. -- I I love that he would never forgotten how he started. I love that -- trust Barack to do what he said he's gonna do even when it's hard especially when it's -- Yeah I I low. That for Barack. There is no such thing as us and then he doesn't hear what you're Democrat or Republican. Or none of the above he knows that we. All love our country. Any is always ready to listen the good idea he's always looking for the very best. In everyone he meets. And I I love. -- that even. In the toughest moments. When we're also -- When -- -- -- worried that the bill won't pass it seems like all is lost. -- Barack never lets himself get distracted by the chatter in the blowing -- Just like his grandmother. She just keeps getting up and moving forward with. Patience and wisdom. And courage and grace. We are playing a long game here. And that change is hard. And change is slow and it never happens all at once but eventually. We get there. We always do what we we get there because the folks like my dad. Folks like Barack's grandmother men and women who who said to themselves. I may not have a chance to fulfill my dreams but maybe my children will. Maybe my grandchildren will. -- see so many of us stand here denied because of their sacrifice. And longing and steadfast love. Because time and again they swallow their fears and doubts. And did what was hard. So today. When the challenges we face. Start to seem overwhelming or even impossible. Let us never forget. They're doing the impossible -- is the history of this nation. It is who we are. America. It's our parents and grandparents could spoil. And and struggle for us up yet if they could raise beams of steel to this -- -- demands of the moon. Connect the world with a touch of the button. -- then surely we can keep on sacrifice in and building for our own kids and grandkids right. And and -- so many brave men and women. Could Wear our country's uniform and sacrificed. Their lives for our most fundamental rights. -- surely we can do our part as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights surely weekend. -- the polls on Election Day and make our voice is tired. And black Smiths could win independence from an empire. If it emigrants could leave behind everything they knew for better life on our shores if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote. But generation could defeat a depression and define greatness for all time if a young preacher could -- -- -- the mountaintop would be the right. Dream. And a -- Americans. -- -- Uday. And wool lace sand and -- who they love. It's actually -- fair chance at that -- American dream. Okay. Am. I. And CNN. More than anything else. That is the story of this country this story unwavering hope grounded -- unyielding struggle. That is what has made my story and Barack story. And in so many other American stories possible and let me tell you something I say all of this tonight not just as First Lady no. Not just as a wife. -- At the end of the day. My most important title is still mom and she. Are still the heart of my heart's. And the -- of my world. Let me tell you today I have been none of those worries from four years ago now. Now about whether -- -- -- were doing what was best for our girls. Because today. I know from experience. That if I truly want to leave a better world for my daughters. And for all of our sons and daughters. If if we want to give all of our children. -- foundation. For their dreams. And opportunities worthy of their promise. If if we want to give them that sense of limitless possibility. That belief that here in America -- -- always something better out there you -- willing to work for it. Then we must have worked like never before. And me. Yeah yeah. Okay.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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