State News

Michelle Obama rallies military families for change

Posted October 7, 2008 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2008 7:01 p.m. EDT

— Michelle Obama called on military families Tuesday for their support in electing her husband the next president of the United States, saying he is the only candidate who shares their vision of a military system that does more to support its troops and their families.

Speaking to a crowd of hundreds in Jacksonville, home to Camp Lejeune, Obama highlighted Sen. Barack Obama's plans to expand health care benefits to families and a 21st Century GI Bill that would offer an affordable college education to veterans and their families.

"Today, Barack is determined to lead America to make the same commitment to military families today so that they have the same opportunity he had, his grandfather had, his mother had," she said.

Michelle Obama said her husband's life was shaped because of the opportunities his grandfather had from the government as a result of serving in World War II.

"Barack Obama understands," she said, "because his life was shaped by the sacred contract our country makes with the men and women who serve it."

But military families today are doing without, she said. Spouses of those deployed overseas are responsible for everything in their family's households, and in today's struggling economy, the everyday challenges Americans are facing are even harder for military families.

"They're doing everything that's asked of them and more, and they're not asking for much in return," Michelle Obama said. "They're just asking for a Washington that understands the unique challenges military families are facing as part of their extraordinary commitment to this country."

Speaking before Obama, military wife Tess Sanders said she and her husband, now serving overseas, knew the risks they were taking when he enlisted.

"We knew we had to keep up our end of the bargain, but we did not know that the government might not keep up its end," Sanders said. "And that's what hurts me the most, and that's what hurts this community."

The campaign event came the same day as the Republican vice presidential candidate, Gov. Sarah Palin, was scheduled to speak at East Carolina University in Greenville.

Tuesday night, Barack Obama and Republican John McCain meet in the second of three scheduled debates between the presidential candidates.

With recent polls showing both candidates in a tight race in North Carolina, Obama's campaign has mounted an aggressive fight as it challenges McCain for the state's electoral votes.

North Carolina hasn't picked a Democratic presidential candidate in 32 years, and veterans and military families could play a crucial role in making that happen. There are eight active military bases in the state with more than 7,000 troops deployed overseas.

"We have to work together as a community, as neighbors, as brothers and sisters," Michelle Obama said. "And if we do that, not only will we elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States, but we could change the world."