In speeches designed to fire up Democrats to vote in midterm elections, President Obama has at times described voters in his party as having a "congenital defect." Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama suggested the problem might just be that they're sleepy.
Mrs. Obama spoke at a rally in Philadelphia for the Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf. In an effort to boost turnout in November, the first lady told the crowd that she runs across voters "who are like, no, I ain’t going to vote, or I couldn’t wake up." But she stressed that every vote matters:
So this is where -- when I find people who are like, no, I ain’t going to vote, or I couldn’t wake up, or it doesn’t matter, or why -- 20 votes decided who your Governor was in 2010, and it could decide who the Governor is this time.
The first lady wasn't finished with the sleepy-voter theme. Later in her remarks, she expanded on the idea:
You know your 20 people. You know the people in your neighborhood, in your church, in your family who aren’t focused. And you can’t leave anybody behind.
That nephew you know who sleeps -- get him up. Wake him up. (Laughter.) Young people, you all know folks who aren’t paying attention. Your classmates, your dorm mates -- wake them up, get them out.
Mrs. Obama also told her audience that turnout was a large part of her husband's victories, especially "women and minorities and young people." Republicans, she explained, counted on "folks like us" to stay away from the polls:
And I don’t know if you remember, but people were shocked when Barack won -- they’re still shocked -- (laughter and applause) -- because they were counting on folks like us to stay home. See, but then we proved them wrong. Barack won because OF record numbers of women and minorities and young people who showed up and voted.
See, but then when the midterms came along -- which is where we are now -- too many of our people just tuned out. And that’s what folks on the other side are counting on right now, because when we stay home, they win. So they’re assuming that we won’t care. They’re hoping and praying that we’re not organized and energized. But only we can prove them wrong.
This Friday, the first lady will be in Florida for a Commit to Vote rally with gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, and next Tuesday will appear in Minnesota with Governor Mark Dayton and Senator Al Franken.