First lady Michelle Obama is stepping onto the political stage and launching a nationwide effort to motivate every supporter of President Barack Obama to get more involved in his re-election campaign — and bring along somebody else, too.
The "It Takes One" program encourages supporters to make a difference in this year's election, and to "start by taking one action that will help grow our campaign," Mrs. Obama says. In a three-minute video message to supporters, Mrs. Obama tells supporters that in light of a tighter election than 2008 likely this fall, "in the end, it could all come down to those last few thousand votes in a single state."
The first lady spoke with the Tom Joyner Morning show today and urged supporters to fight voter suppression and get out and vote.
"In this election, we're going to be making a choice about how we want our democracy run. Do we want our President selected by people rolling their sleeves up, knocking on doors, or are we going to hand it over to a couple of people who write big checks?" said the first lady.
Read the full transcript of the first lady's interview with the Tom Joyner Morning Show below.
Tom Joyner: Good morning, Ms. First Lady.
Mrs. Obama: Good morning, Tom. How are you guys doing over there?
Tom Joyner: Doing good. Doing good. Where are you?
Mrs. Obama: I'm in Washington. I'm heading out —
Tom Joyner: At the White House?
Mrs. Obama: Yes. I'm heading out on the road, so I'm sitting here, looking out over the Monument. But I'm about to get out there and start campaigning.
Tom Joyner: That's a big, old house. Is it hard to keep cool in this hot summer?
Mrs. Obama: You know, they've got the heat and the air-conditioning pretty much down here. So I can't say that we're sweltering over here. But it is definitely hot in D.C.
Tom Joyner: Yes. How's your mom? How is Mrs. Robinson?
Mrs. Obama: She is good. She's in Chicago. The girls have a few weeks at camp, and she gets out of here. So she's actually in Chicago. Hey, Mom.
Tom Joyner: Hey, Ms. Robinson. (Laughter.) So the girls — they went over to London?
Mrs. Obama: They did not, because I was only there for a couple of days and they go to this sports camp. And the decision was, do you not go to sports camp at all, or do you come for two days with me to London? And they were like, bye. (Laughter.) See you, Mom. Good luck with that.
Tom Joyner: Yes. How about that Gabby, huh? How about that Gabby.
Mrs. Obama: Oh, my goodness, so proud of her, so proud. Just amazing. I mean, Barack and I always say, you know what, all those gymnasts, given what they do, they should get a medal — something, all of them. If you can flip up in the air on that little pole, if you can — it's just amazing what they do, and the amount of training and focus — I'm just in awe and very proud of her.
Tom Joyner: Your babies aren’t in gymnastic class?
Mrs. Obama: My babies are too tall. We are too tall. We don't bend that way. (Laughter.) When you see the Olympics, you see your body type, and our body type is not the gymnast body type.
Tom Joyner: Are they the basketball player type?
Mrs. Obama: We are basketball player type, a little volleyball player type. Lots of leg. Lots of leg. (Laughter.) Can't get around that pole, can't get all that leg around. (Laughter.)
Tom Joyner: Okay. I'm going to go to break. And when I come back at the top of the hour, I'm going to play this jingle we did when the Big Chief sang the Al Green song. We mixed that down and made it into a —
Mrs. Obama: Oh, my goodness. (Laughter.)
Tom Joyner: And by the way, I heard you're a really big fan of Eric Benet, right?
Mrs. Obama: Oh, yes, yes. I saw Eric Benet and Ledisi — I'm a huge fan of Ledisi. She blew out her concert. But yes, yes, I love — they are true singers.
Tom Joyner: All right, we might have to have a little tussle here first over Eric Benet. All respect to you, but I'm just saying — (laughter.)
Mrs. Obama: I like his voice. (Laughter.)
Tom Joyner: Okay, who's the better singer — Eric Benet or the Big Chief?
Mrs. Obama: Oh, goes without saying, Barack Obama.
Sybil Wilkes: Hello. (Laughter.)
Mrs. Obama: I mean, please.
Sybil Wilkes: Do you know where she lives, who's she's married to? (Laughter.)
Mrs. Obama: No contest.
Tom Joyner: She's calling today about a program called, "It Takes One." And when we come back we're going the talk about "It Takes One." On The Tom Joyner Morning Show with the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.
* * *
Mrs. Obama: So, Sybil, you don't like Eric.
Sybil Wilkes: Oh no, I love Eric. Oh, no, we have history.
Mrs. Obama: Oh, really? I didn't know that.
Sybil Wilkes: No, no — history in my head.
Mrs. Obama: Oh, okay. I see, I see. There is the history in the head part. (Laughter.)
Sybil Wilkes: You understand.
Mrs. Obama: I understand. That's how good he is — he breaks through the history in your head.
Sybil Wilkes: That's right.
Tom Joyner: Do you play Eric Benet on the plane and in the cars —
Mrs. Obama: I always have my iPod with me — everywhere I go, every minute I have a second, I've got music in my head, just blocking it out so —
Tom Joyner: If you go to the most recent played, Eric Benet, number one?
Mrs. Obama: Well, he's not number one. He's on there, but Stevie is my guy — Stevie Wonder. You know, come on now.
Tom Joyner: You fell in love with Stevie Wonder.
Mrs. Obama: You know, it's over with Stevie. Stevie even beats out Barack. (Laughter.)
Tom Joyner: Whoa! That's my President you're talking about there. (Laughter.)
Mrs. Obama: You know, he's a good President, but Stevie Wonder is a musical genius. (Laughter.)
Tom Joyner: Hold up, hold up.
Sybil Wilkes: And he sings a nice little ditty, but he is no Stevie, huh?
Mrs. Obama: I'm just saying. He's pretty talented, that Stevie Wonder character. (Laughter.)
Tom Joyner: Who are the girls listening to these days?
Mrs. Obama: Oh, gosh. Well, you know, Beyonce is a huge favorite. And Malia is like — oh, God, who is this — Odd Future. She is just sort of — she played me some of the — she was like, this may be inappropriate for you, Mom. So I'm like, are you really, seriously trying to prep me for a song? (Laughter.) We're at that stage where she is like — I was like, let me hear what you're listening to. She is like, well, this is a little — the language is a little rough for you.
Tom Joyner: There comes a time. There comes a time.
Mrs. Obama: And she turned me on to Elle Varner. I got her — so I got a couple of her cute, little songs on there. Malia hooked me up — into Elle Varner. So they're the usual. They're not too much into the Eric- Bieber kind of stuff. They like the music — they like One Direction, although I don't know their music as well. They like the tried and true artists.
Tom Joyner: How about Mindless Behavior, are they into those guys?
Mrs. Obama: They performed here for the Easter Egg Roll — I'm not sure whether they have their music on their iPods, but they know them, for sure. Just trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Tom Joyner: I know, right?
Mrs. Obama: That's when you feel old, when your 14-year-old is trying to prepare you for —
Tom Joyner: For the music.
Mrs. Obama: — bad language. Just hold it together, Mom.
Tom Joyner: We can't bring it up.
Mrs. Obama: Aw, man, really?
Tom Joyner: It's really good, though. We'll finish with it so you can hear it. But believe me, you will have a reaction. (Laughter.) So if you can put yourself into that reaction, we'll start this thing.
Mrs. Obama: Singing it only as he can.
Tom Joyner: That's right, that's right. Four more for Number 44.
Mrs. Obama: Yes, yes — my husband is a gifted man in many ways. (Laughter.)
Tom Joyner: All right. So, Big Chief or Al Green — who's the better singer?
Mrs. Obama: I mean, I live with the man. Although, Al, he does it right. So I'm going to lie in the balance here.
Tom Joyner: The Big Chief or Stevie Wonder?
Mrs. Obama: Well, Stevie Wonder. Even I have to push aside the Big Chief for Stevie. (Laughter.) Stevie does have an edge. (Laughter.) He actually has talent and creativity and all of that.
Tom Joyner: He's musical genius, yes.
Mrs. Obama: He is a musical genius — small things like that. I want to retain some credibility here. (Laughter.)
Tom Joyner: We're less than a hundred days away from the election.
Mrs. Obama: Yes, indeed.
Tom Joyner: And you have a project you call, "It Takes Ones," right?
Mrs. Obama: Yes, yes. The idea — really it's a simple one. This election is going to be closer than the last one. That's the only guarantee we have. And really what's going to make the difference are people talking to people. So what I tell folks when I'm out there doing grassroots events, I tell them, multiply yourselves. And really all it will take is just that one person that you register to vote, that one person that you get out to the polls, that one person that you talk to and help them understand what's at stake.
I want people to be thinking that that one could be the one that puts us over the top. Especially when you think about how an election is broken down over precincts and counties and communities. We've seen close elections. It could come down to the last 500 people. So for anyone who doesn’t feel like — the thing I can do won't make a difference, we're just trying to change that, because all it will take is one.
And if each of us does our one, and all of us know that one person in our lives, that one knucklehead nephew that's not registered to vote, that one neighbor that's not really paying attention, or that one person in your office that's confused about how Barack's tax plan will benefit that individual — those are going to be the conversations that make a difference.
And in this election, we're going to be making a choice about how we want our democracy run. Do we want our President selected by people rolling their sleeves up, knocking on doors, or are we going to hand it over to a couple of people who write big checks? And we've invested throughout not just this campaign but throughout Barack's first term in building organizations on the ground — because it's not just about choosing the next President, it's about choosing what the next tax plan is going to be, or whether we actually tackle global warming, or whether or kids can go to school without a mountain of debt.
These are the issues that we're really talking about. And it extends far beyond who's in the White House, but who's in the Congress, who's in the statehouse, who are our mayors, how are these campaigns funded, do we support that? So we want people focusing on the one thing I can do. And everybody can do one thing, and it will be that one-on-one kind of contact that's going to get us over the finish line in the end.
So "It Takes One."
Tom Joyner: I've got the perfect mechanism to do this. We have partnered with the NAACP and the National Urban League and the National Action Network, and we have a number that you can simply call and register someone over the phone. It's 1-866-MY-VOTE-1. You know that one person that's not a registered voter —
Mrs. Obama: Absolutely.
Tom Joyner: — and they should be — you could dial them the number.
Mrs. Obama: Absolutely.
Tom Joyner: Put it in your contacts — 1-866-MY-VOTE-1. And all that’s done on the phone.
Mrs. Obama: Yes, it’s as easy as that. And that’s the one thing we’ve got to keep emphasizing to people — that voting, registering to vote is a simple thing to do. And we don’t want anybody to be intimidated by the political process. Because essentially — sometimes that’s what keeps people from engaging. They just feel like, I’m going to run into problems, it’s going to be a challenge. But we just have to keep reminding people this is as simple as a phone call. It’s as simple as going to the website. We also have a website called gottavote.org — where people can go online and do the same thing.
So the fact that you, the NAACP, so many organizations are focused on voter registration — again, it is critical because this is our power in the end. And again, it’s not just about this presidential election. It’s about the future of our communities and our families. And that’s the way you make change — in the voting booths.
Tom Joyner: That’s right.
Mrs. Obama: So thank you so much for that initiative.
Sybil Wilkes: Mrs. Obama, we have so much information here, and we have it on BlackAmericaWeb.com, we have it at barackobama.com/one. But there’s so much there — and on Black America Web, and on The Tom Joyner Morning Show — we get it every day. How is it that you keep people engaged or get people engaged? Because 2008 was just such an incredible year, and you saw the groundswell, obviously, of support and people standing in line for hours at a time. How are you keeping them engaged in this one?
Mrs. Obama: We have thousands of offices that — and many of them in the important swing states. And that’s something that we try to explain to people, because some people feel like, well, I don’t feel the campaign, I don’t feel that energy in my place. But the point is, is that swing states are going to play a crucial role strategically in this. So if you go to Ohio or Iowa, Florida, Pennsylvania, where I’m about to go, you will see an organization that has been on the ground for years, and that’s a huge advantage that this campaign has had in the past and will continue to have. Because our opponents haven’t invested anything — or not as much as we have — on that kind of grassroots support. And that’s been going on since Barack was elected.
But we have thousands of organizations. Whenever I’m going to a rally — now, there’s going to be a couple thousand people there. But people in that audience are team leaders who are working every day, making calls and pulling their neighbors in, and we organize a set of events around team leaders. And again, in places like Ohio and Iowa, this process has been on the ground for four years. So we’re not recreating the wheel.
So the swing state focus is really a critical focus because in a presidential election, where you’re counting electoral votes — and we all heard about that in the last election – the swing states strategically make a huge difference. And when you’re dealing with limited amounts of resources — like our campaign is, as compared to the other guy who's got millions and millions pouring in — we have to be really strategic about where we put our resources.
So that’s why you’re going to feel the campaign in those swing states. Even more so in places like my hometown, like Illinois, or places like California or New York, where our view is we should have that sewed up — and we will, but we don’t take anything for granted. No one should take anything for granted, because we’ve seen how these elections, they can go any way. And if it’s close — we don’t want it to be close, right?
Tom Joyner: It takes one.
Mrs. Obama: It takes one.
Sybil Wilkes: You are the "First Cheerleader" of the nation, too. (Laughter.)
Mrs. Obama: Oh, my goodness.
Sybil Wilkes: Not only the First Lady, but the "First Cheerleader," too. (Laughter.) Good for you.
Mrs. Obama: It’s a great role to have. And I have been proud to be able to serve in this role, and I’m ready to do it for four more years.
Tom Joyner: All right.
Sybil Wilkes: We’re lucky to have you.
Mrs. Obama: We’ve got a lot more work to do.
Tom Joyner: All right, four more for the 44. (Laughter.)
Mrs. Obama: Thank you, guys. It’s always fun talking to you all.
Sybil Wilkes: Thank you so much.
Tom Joyner: We love you.
Mrs. Obama: All right, love you. Bye-bye.
Tom Joyner: Bye-bye.