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Michelle Obama makes her closing argument: 'Vote for Joe Biden like your lives depend on it'

Christopher Wilson
·Senior Writer
·5-min read

Former first lady Michelle Obama is urging Americans to vote for Joe Biden in a 24-minute video that casts the election in existential terms.

“Think about what would possibly compel you to accept this level of chaos, violence and confusion under this president and be willing to watch our country continue to spiral out of control. Because we can no longer pretend that we don’t know exactly who and what this president stands for,” Obama says in the video, which was posted by the Biden campaign Tuesday morning.

“Search your hearts and your conscience, and then vote for Joe Biden like your lives depend on it.”

In the video, Obama praises Biden — who served as vice president under her husband — while still delivering a withering critique of President Trump, citing his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic and attempts at stoking racial division.

Obama begins her video by discussing COVID-19, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans and has recently infected the president, along with a number of his staffers and Republican lawmakers. She says Republicans have dragged their feet on passing economic relief legislation and criticizes Trump’s continued aversion to wearing a mask despite his infection.

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama's Closing Argument | Joe Biden for President 2020 (Joe Biden via YouTube)

“The worst part is it didn’t have to be like this,” Obama says. “Look around the world. So many other countries aren’t experiencing this level of extended suffering and uncertainty. These countries were hit by the same virus as we were, they had the same kind of resources to contain it as we did, but what they didn’t have to contend with was this president.

“A man who had every resource at his disposal. The finest medical experts. Our best intelligence. And yet ignored all of the advice and failed to produce a plan to provide enough tests for worried families or protective equipment for our health care workers. A man who knew how deadly this virus is but who lied to us and told us it would just disappear.

“We simply cannot trust this president to tell us the truth about anything,” she adds.

A CNN poll released Monday found that only 12 percent of Americans said they trusted almost all of what they heard from the White House about Trump’s health, versus 69 percent who said they trusted little of what they heard. Meanwhile, a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll found Biden leading Trump by 8 points nationally.

Obama also speaks at length about race and attempts to appeal to white voters who support Trump. “We must all empathize with those who might not look like us or vote like us,” she says.

“You’ve worked hard all your life, and for too long you’ve watched the rich get richer,” Obama says. “You’ve lost your farms and your livelihoods to corporate greed, you’ve seen your beloved towns shattered by joblessness. You’ve watched families destroyed by drug addiction and mental health challenges.

Joe Biden smiles at a podium in front of an American flag
Joe Biden at a campaign stop in Johnstown, Pa., on Sept. 30. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“All of this, long before this virus hit — and it is frustrating to hear some folks say you’ve been the beneficiary of privilege, that the color of your skin gives you a head start. That is the reality for far too many hard-working, decent Americans.

“But right now the president and his allies are trying to tap into that frustration and distract from his breathtaking failures by giving folks someone to blame other than them,” Obama continues. “They’re stoking fears about Black and brown Americans, lying about how minorities will destroy the suburbs. Whipping up violence and intimidation, and they’re pinning it all on what’s been an overwhelmingly peaceful moment for racial solidarity.”

Obama then pivots to discussing the difficulties faced by people of color in this country, citing her experience as a Black woman.

“Living with the knowledge of how hard we try, how much good we do in the world, there will be far too many who will never see our humanity,” she says, “who will project on us their own fears of retribution for centuries of injustice and thus only see us as a threat to be restrained.

“And we know what happens next: A racial slur from a passing car, a job promotion that never comes, a routine traffic stop gone wrong, maybe a knee to the neck. Racism, fear, division. These are powerful weapons, and they can destroy this nation if we don’t deal with them head on.”

In her pitch for Biden, Obama also says the Democratic nominee would “appoint Supreme Court justices who follow in the steps of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, judges who understand that justice and equality aren’t theoretical ideas but concrete matters that affect our health care, our livelihoods and our bodies.”

Following the death of Ginsburg last month, Democrats donated tens of millions of dollars to campaigns up and down the ballot. Obama concludes her remarks by urging Americans to vote as soon as they can, and if they can’t vote early or by mail, to set aside time on Election Day.

Michelle Obama is one of the Democrats’ most popular and sought-after surrogates. A poll conducted by Morning Consult and Politico in August found she had a 60 percent approval rating among registered voters, higher than the response for Trump (39 percent), Biden (46 percent) or her husband (58 percent).

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