First Lady Michelle Obama endorses Mike Michaud at UMaine rally

Although the political rally in the Collins Center for the Arts on Friday afternoon was in support of Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s gubernatorial campaign, the candidate himself admitted he may not have been the primary focus of the event.

“I’m sure a lot of you came here to see someone else this evening,” Michaud said, referring to the appearance of First Lady Michelle Obama, whom Michaud referred to as someone “who knows a thing or two about change,” at the rally in support of his campaign.

However, as the attendees in the filled CCA began loudly chanting Michaud’s campaign slogan, “We Like Mike,” it becameclear the event truly was about Michaud and his plans on approaching the issues Maine currently faces, should he be elected into office.

“Right now, Maine is at the crossroads,” Michaud said. “Too many people are out of work, working too hard or too little. Too many students are saddled with too much debt. Too many bridges are crumbling. Too many entrepreneurs have incredible ideas, but not enough capital or access to the tools and connectivity that they need to grow. Too many schools are underfunded or understaffed.”

Taking a stab at current Maine governor Paul LePage, Michaud added, “Our current governor will never, never be able to fix these problems because he’s too divisive, too wedded to his ideology and too unwilling to listen to anyone who has the audacity to disagree with him.”

Michaud also expressed how he believes LePage’s interests do not coincide with those of a flourishing Maine.

“Maine is full of so much opportunity, but we are being held back by one man,” Michaud said. “What Maine needs right now is a real leader who shares Maine values, our values.”

Obama, who also appeared at the Strand Theater in Boston, Mass. on Friday morning to support Mass. gubernatorial candidate and current state attorney general Martha Coakley, praised Michaud as a “decent,” “honest” and “hard-working man” who “understands what families here in Maine are going through.”

After reviewing statistics relevant to what her husband President Barack Obama has accomplished during his time in office — like the 10 million new private sector jobs that have been created in the United States since 2010 and the near-halving of the national unemployment rate, from 10 percent to 5.9 percent, since 2009 — Obama expressed faith in Michaud’s ability to have a similar impact on Maine.

“This is the kind of change that can happen if we elect leaders who share our values, who listen to our voices, and that’s what this election is all about,” Obama said. “It’s about whether we’re going to elect leaders who can fight for our families and for the kind of world we want to leave for our kids and grandkids.

“That’s the kind of leadership people here in Maine deserve, and that’s why we need to elect Mike Michaud as governor of this state.”

One of the main issues Michaud addressed was health care, asking the crowd to stand with him and “protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.”

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards spoke at the rally in support of Michaud, and said how she has seen “the dangerous results of politicians putting their own personal political agenda ahead of the rights of women to access health care that they need.”

After lauding the work done by Planned Parenthood and announcing that the teen pregnancy rate is currently the lowest it’s been in decades, Richards added, “There is no way we should turn back on all that progress now, and that’s why we need a new governor in Maine.”

According to Michaud, there are 70,000 Mainers, 3,000 of whom are veterans, who have been denied access to health care by LePage. He went on to say that increasing health care access is both the “morally right” and “fiscally responsible” thing to do because it will save the state money, strengthen hospitals and bring thousands of new jobs to the state.

“Seventy thousand of our friends and family and neighbors can’t afford another four more years [of] worrying about whether or not the next illness will spell financial ruins for that family,” Michaud said. “I need you to stand with me so that we can extend access to health care for these Mainers.”

Michaud also expressed a desire to raise the minimum wage in Maine, saying: “Mainers who work full time should earn enough money to put food on the table and work their way out of poverty.”

Obama expressed her belief in Michaud’s ability to effectively address the issue, saying, “If you think people who work 40 or 50 hours a week shouldn’t have to live in poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth, [...] you need to step up and get everyone you know out to vote.”

Michaud said Maine needs to “cut the cost of college tuition so that students, like many of you out there this evening, can actually make a living, so you don’t get crushed with student debt.”

Obama also focused on education and the economy today’s politicians will leave for young people, saying that children who work hard “should have every opportunity to get a good education, build a decent life for themselves and a better life for their own kids.”

“That’s the American dream we all believe in,” Obama said. “And that’s what this election here in Maine is all about.”

Like Michaud, Obama urged attendees to acknowledge the importance of political awareness and voting, citing the 2010 Maine gubernatorial race that was decided by “about 9,800 votes,” which equals “about eight votes per precinct,” according to Obama.

“I bet every single one of you knows eight people who can get to the polls, right?” Obama said. “You know those folks. You know them. They say, ‘Why should I vote? What does it matter?’ Well, it made a difference in [the previous] election for governor in 2010.”

Michaud expressed urgency, saying how there is limited time left before the election, which will take place on Nov. 4, to get the word out about his campaign.

“There are only 32 days left in this election,” Michaud said. “That’s 32 days to knock on doors. 32 days to make telephone calls. 32 days to make sure that every Mainer across the state stands up to the anger and divisiveness of the last four years and come together for a real positive change this November.”

Obama summarized her support for Michaud at the conclusion of her speech: “Here’s what I know: as first lady of the United States, I’ve learned that [...] if we take all our energy and passion and caring and good intention and we pour it into this election, and we bring others along with us, then I know that we can keep on making that change we believe in. I know that we can elect Mike Michaud as governor of Maine.”

University of Maine President Susan Hunter and Democratic Second Congressional District candidate Emily Cain also spoke at the rally. University of Maine a capella group UMaine Steiners also performed a medley and the national anthem.

Read more here: http://mainecampus.com/2014/10/03/first-lady-michelle-obama-endorses-mike-michaud-at-umaine-rally/
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