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Michelle Obama fund-raising with Warren Buffett

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WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama is on a fund-raising swing this week, combining a few official stops along the way, as she did in Omaha on Wednesday, where super-investor Warren Buffett joined Mrs. Obama at a reception with the tab ranging from $250 to 10,000 per person.

In Omaha, Mrs. Obama also keynoted a lunch for Girls Inc., a charity whose board includes Buffetts' daughter Susie. The Buffetts have a special place in Obama history--and its not just because of the "Buffett Rule," the nickname for Obama's push for tax equity.

Susie Buffett was a very early Barack Obama supporter, starting with his 2004 campaign for Illinois senator.

The Omaha event was tiered, with a photo, preferred seating and a "greet" from Mrs. Obama available on a sliding donation scale.


The proceeds to go to the Obama Victory Fund 2012, a joint fund-raising committee of the Obama 2012 campaign and the Democratic National Committee and state parties in 10 battleground states.

On Friday, Mrs. Obama hits Naples, Florida--a battleground state-- for an afternoon fund-raiser at the Inn on Fifth there. The donation to get into the reception, organized by the Florida Finance Committee, is $1,000 per-person or $5,000 if you want a photo with Mrs. Obama.

Transcripts from Omaha a the click...


THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the First Lady
________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release April 24, 2012


REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY
AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT

The Hilton Omaha Hotel
Omaha, Nebraska


1:49 P.M. CDT


MRS. OBAMA: Thank you all so much. (Applause.) Let me tell you, it is a pleasure and an honor to be here with all of you.

I want to start, of course, by thanking Warren for that very kind introduction. Oh my goodness. Every day, he reminds us that it's not just enough to do well for ourselves -- we also have an obligation to reach back and to lift up others. And we are so grateful for Warren's service to those in need, both here in America and around the world. (Applause.) Yes, indeed.

I also have to recognize Warren's wonderful daughter, Susie, who's doing plenty of her own great work to lift up our children and our families. (Applause.) Susie, you are amazing. That event -- as much as I gave those girls, they gave it right back. I mean, that is truly what we're here for, and it was well worth the flight to come down and spend time with all of you and with those amazing girls who are going to change the world. I am confident in that. (Applause.)

And I also want to thank Mayor Suttle, Mayor Beutler, and your state party chair, Vic Covalt. (Applause.) Yay! Thank you all. And former Senator Bob Kerry is here as well, and we're so pleased that he could join us. (Applause.) He was here, he may -- busy. He's got stuff to do. (Laughter.)

I also want to give a shoutout to David Dover. Yay. (Applause.) To Noelle Obermeyer, and to the rest of the host committee, thank you all for making this even such a huge success. Well done. (Applause.) Well done.

And finally, I want to thank all of you for your support and for taking the time out of your lives to be here today. And I know there's a reason you all are here -- it's not just to hang out with me. (Laughter.) You're here -- me too. But you're here because you know that next November we're going to make a choice that will impact our lives for decades to come. And you're here because you know that choice won't just affect all of us, but it's going to affect those girls we just saw, and it's going to affect our children and our grandchildren and the world we leave for them long after we're gone. And truly, that is why I'm here, and that is why it was such an honor for me to spend time with those girls.

As First Lady, I have had the privilege of traveling all across this country, meeting with folks from all different backgrounds and hearing what's going on in their daily lives. And every day, I hear how people are working to keep it all together -- how they're trying to pay the bills, about the businesses they're trying to keep afloat, about the home they love but are struggling to afford. But let me tell you something -- no matter what folks are going through, no matter what challenges they face, they just keep on working, keep on sacrificing. Why? Because they desperately want something better for their kids. (Applause.) Absolutely. That's what keeps us all going.

They believe in that fundamental vision for our economy that we all share -- the idea, as my husband says, that hard work should pay off, that responsibility should be rewarded, and that everyone should get a fair shot and everyone should do their fair share and play by the same rules. Those are values that are fundamental. They're at the foundation of an economy built to last. They are basic American values. They're the values that so many of us were raised with, including myself.

My father was a blue collar city worker at the water filtration plant, and my family lived in a teeny little apartment on the South Side of Chicago. I've been joking lately that my room is exactly the same as it was -- my mother still has the house -- same bed sheets, same pictures on the wall, flowered pictures I bought when I was 16. But neither of my parents had the opportunity to go to college, but as I told the girls earlier, what my parents did for us is that they saved, and they sacrificed everything for us because they wanted something more for me and my brother.

And more than anything else, that's what's at stake -- that fundamental promise that no matter who you are or how you started out, if you work hard you can build a decent life for yourself, and an even better life for your kids. And let me tell you, on just about every issue that is the choice that we face.

Let's start with all those tax cuts that my husband has passed for middle-class families. What you have to understand is that's about whether people can heat their homes, whether they can send their kids to college, whether they can retire with a little dignity and security. It's about putting money in people's pockets, which means more money in our economy, which means more jobs. And it's about making sure that everyone pays their fair share.

That's why Barack proposed a rule named after our friend Warren. It's called the Buffett Rule, and it closes some of those tax loopholes -- (applause) -- it closes some of those loopholes so that millionaires and billionaires aren't paying lower tax rates than firefighters or teachers -- or their secretaries for that matter. That's what's at stake.

And how about everything my husband has been doing to create jobs? (Applause.) Absolutely. I want you to remember back when all those folks in Washington were telling Barack to let the auto industry go under with more than a million jobs on the line. But Barack had the backs of American workers. He put his faith in the American people, and as a result, today the auto industry is back on its feet, and, more importantly, people are back at work providing for their families. (Applause.)

And think back to when Barack first took office. When he came into office, this country was losing an average of 750,000 jobs a month. That's what he inherited. But for the past 25 straight months, we've actually been gaining private sector jobs -- a total of more than 4 million jobs in just two years. (Applause.)

So while we still have a very long way to go to rebuild our economy, today, millions of folks are collecting a paycheck again. But that's what's at stake. That's the choice we face.

And what about all we've done for our small businesses? These are the companies that create two-thirds of all new jobs each year in this economy. And I'm talking about the mom who opens up a drycleaner to provide for her kids -- that's who we're talking about. We're talking about families that have been running that neighborhood diner for generations. See, for these folks, the small business tax cuts this administration has passed, it will mean the difference between those folks hiring new employees or handing out pink slips; the difference between keeping their doors open or closing up shop for good. But that's the choice that we face.

And how about the very first bill my husband signed into law -- the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work? (Applause.) Now what you have to know is that he did this because he knows what it means when women aren't treated fairly in the workplace. He watched his own grandmother, a woman with a high school education, work her way up to become a Vice President at a little community bank. And she worked hard, and she was good at what she did, but like so many women she hit that glass ceiling, and watched men no more qualified than she was -- men she had actually trained -- be promoted up that ladder ahead of her.

So believe me, for Barack, this issue isn't abstract. This isn't hypothetical. And he signed this bill because he knows that closing that pay gap, that can mean the difference between women losing $50, $100, $500 from each paycheck, or having that money in their pockets to buy gas and groceries and put clothes on the backs of their children. He did it because when so many women are now breadwinners for our families, women's success in this economy is the key to families' success in this economy. (Applause.) And he did it because he believes that here in America, there are no second-class citizens in our workplaces. That's what's at stake here. That's what we're working for.

And let's talk just a minute about health care. See, two years ago, we made history together by finally passing health reform. (Applause.) And because we passed this law, insurance companies will now have to cover basic preventive care -- things like prenatal care, mammograms, contraception -- at no extra cost. (Applause.) And they can no longer deny our children coverage because they have a pre-existing condition like diabetes or asthma.

Kids now stay on their parents' insurance until they're 26 years old, so that when our kids graduate from college, they won't have to go without health care while they're trying to find a job and build lives of their own. And that's how 2.5 million young people today are getting their coverage today. (Applause.) And since we passed this law, millions of our senior citizens have saved an average of more than $600 a year on their prescription drugs.

So let me ask -- will we take all those savings away? Is that what we're going to do?

AUDIENCE: No!

MRS. OBAMA: Are we going to allow insurance companies to refuse to cover our children, or will we say that here in America, no one should ever have to choose between going bankrupt or watching their child suffer because they can't afford a doctor? That's the choice that we face.

And think for a moment about all that we're doing to give our kids a good education. Think about the investments we've made to raise standards and reform our public schools. Think about how my husband has been fighting for the DREAM Act so that responsible young immigrants -- (applause) -- who came here as children and were raised as Americans can earn a path to citizenship by going to college or serving in the military.

And think about how my husband took billions of dollars in taxpayer money that used to go to middleman banks and lenders and he sent it where it belongs -- to help millions of young people go to college. (Applause.) But these investments won't just determine our children's success -- they're going to determine nothing less than the success of our entire economy. They'll determine whether we're prepared to make the discoveries and to build the industries that will let us compete with any country anywhere in the world. But that's what's at stake.

And we cannot forget how my husband appointed those two brilliant Supreme Court justices -- (applause) -- and for the first time in history, our daughters and sons watched three women take their seats on our nation's highest court. (Applause.) And let's not forget the impact the Court's decisions will have on our lives for decades to come -- on our privacy and security; on whether we can speak freely, worship openly, and, yes, love whomever we choose. That's what's at stake. That's the choice we face. (Applause.)

And finally, let us not forget all this administration has done to keep our country safe and restore our standing in the world. Thanks to the brave men and women in uniform, we finally brought to justice the man behind the 9/11 attacks and all those other horrific acts of violence. (Applause.)

My husband kept his promise. He ended the war in Iraq, he brought our troops home, and we are working very hard to give them and their families the benefits they've earned. And finally, because my husband ended "don't ask, don't tell," our troops will never again have to lie about who they are to serve the country they love. (Applause.) But that's what's at stake. Those are the choices we face.

So make no mistake about it -- whether it's health care or the economy, whether it's education or foreign policy, the choice we make will determine nothing less than who we are as a country, but, more importantly, who do we want to be? Who do we want to be?

Will we be a country where opportunity is just limited to the few at the top?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: No.

MRS. OBAMA: Is that who we are? Or will we be a place where if you work hard, you can get ahead no matter who you are or how you started out? Who are we? Will we tell folks who have done everything right but are still struggling, are we going to look at them and say tough luck, you're on your own? Who are we? Or will we honor that fundamental American belief that we're all in this together, and that this country is strongest when we're all better off? (Applause.) Who do we want to be?

Will we continue all the change we've begun and the progress we've made? Or will we allow everything we've fought for to just slip away? See, but those are the choices we face. And we know what we need to do. We know that we cannot turn back now. We need to keep moving forward. Am I right? (Applause.)

See, believe me, what you have to know is your President, Barack, he knows this. He knows this all too well. He understands these issues because he's lived them. He was raised by a single mother who struggled to put herself through school and pay the bills, and when she needed help, who stepped up? His grandmother, waking up every morning before dawn to take that bus at her job at the bank. And even though she was passed over for all those promotions, like so many people in our lives, she never complained. How many people do we know like that, who just never complain? She just kept on showing up and doing her best.

So believe me, Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. Believe me, he knows what it means when someone doesn't have a chance to fulfill their potential, and how much that hurts. Those are the experiences that have made him the man and the President he is today. And we are blessed to have him. (Applause.)

And what I share with people is, that is what I hear in my husband's voice when he returns home after a long day traveling around the country and he tells me about the people he's met. That's what I see in those quiet moments late at night after the girls have gone to bed and he's up poring over the letters people have sent him -- the letter from the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company won't cover her care, the letter from the father struggling to pay his family's bills, the letters from far too many young people with so much promise, but so few opportunities.

And I hear the passion and the determination in his voice. He says you won't believe what people are still going through. That's what he tells me. He says, Michelle, this is not right. We have got to fix this. We have so much more work to do.

See, what people need to know in this election, when it comes to the people Barack meets, he has a mind like a steel trap -- Warren's seen it. (Laughter.) He might not remember your name, but if he's had a few minutes and a decent conversation, he will never forget your story. It becomes imprinted on his heart. And that is what he carries with him every single day. It's our collection of struggles, and hopes and dreams.

That's where Barack gets his passion. That is where he gets that toughness and that fight, that steadiness. That's why, even in the hardest moments when it seems like all is lost, Barack Obama never loses sight of the end goal. He never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise. (Applause.) Like his grandmother, he just keeps moving forward. He just keeps moving forward.

But I have said this before -- said it in the last election -- and I will keep saying it: He cannot do this alone. He cannot do this alone. That was never the promise. He needs your help. He needs you revved up, making those calls; more importantly, registering those voters. He needs you to take those "I'm in" cards -- you seen them? Sign them up! Sign up. Sign your friends and your neighbors and your colleagues up. You need to convince them how important it is just to invest a little bit of themselves each week in this campaign.

Because we all know that this isn't about one extraordinary man. It never was. Although I'll admit my husband is awesome. (Applause.) But it has never been about him. It has always been about us -- all of us. All of us coming together for the values we believe in, and the country we want to be. (Applause.) The country we want to be.

And I'm not going to kid you -- this journey is going to be long. It is going to be hard, I can guarantee you, and there will be plenty of twists and turns along the way. But the truth is, and what we have to remember, is that's how change always happens in this country. That's how it works.

The reality is that change -- real change -- is slow, and it never happens all at once, never does. But if we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight, then eventually we get there. We always have, we always will. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but maybe in our children's lifetimes, maybe in our grandchildren's lifetimes. Because in the end, that's what this is all about. Remember those girls?

In the end, we are not fighting these battles for ourselves. Like so many who came before us and fought for us to be right here, we are fighting them for our sons and our daughters; for our grandsons and our granddaughters. We're fighting for the world we want to leave for them -- for them. That's what's at stake. That's why I'm here.

So let me tell you something -- it is time for us to get moving. It's time for us to get to work. So let me ask you one last question -- are you in?

AUDIENCE: Yes! (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA: I can't hear that, are you in?

AUDIENCE: Yes!

MRS. OBAMA: You have to be really in! (Applause.) I am so in. I am so fired up. We have a vision, and it's a vision we share. And we can come together and work hard and bring this home and get back to the business of giving our children the country that we know we want them to have.

Thank you all so much. We're going to work hard. God bless you. (Applause.)

END 2:11 P.M. CDT
-----
THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the First Lady
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release April 24, 2012


REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY
AT GIRLS INC. OF OMAHA EVENT

Century Link Center
Omaha, Nebraska


12:31 P.M. CDT


MRS. OBAMA: Oh, wow. Thank you all so much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you so much. Rest yourselves. Oh, I am so thrilled to be here with all of you today. You cannot imagine. And look at this room. You all are amazing. I want to start by thanking Chanecia for that very sweet introduction. And first of all, you are absolutely right -- I have to meet Malia and Sasha's boyfriends -- (laughter) -- before there's any of that happening. And there's a lot of discipline going on in our house as well. But let's give Chanecia a round of applause. She was just amazing. (Applause.)

I also want to recognize a few people. I know that Mayor Suttle is here, and I wanted to say hello from afar; as well as Warren Buffett and his wife Astrid; and your wonderful executive director here at Girls Inc., Roberta Wilhelm. Absolutely. Yay! (Applause.)

And, of course, I have to give a huge thank you to Susie Buffett. (Applause.) Yes. Susie, your leadership here at Girls Inc., as well as your outstanding work to support our public schools, to invest in early childhood education, and to address issues like poverty and global women's health, that has inspired us all. And we are so incredibly grateful for everything that you do for Girls Inc., for the Omaha community, and for our country. Yes, indeed. (Applause.)

And I also want to give a special shout-out to all of the young ladies that are joining us here at this luncheon -- because I want them to know that they are the reason that we're here today. I am -- absolutely. (Applause.) I want you all to know that I am so proud of the work that you're doing, working to get active and to eat healthy -- and from the looks of the video that you showed, it seems like you all are having a little fun while doing it, too.

And finally, I want to thank all of the rest of you here today -- all of the supporters, the volunteers and the staff of Girls Inc. Every day, because of all of you, girls all across this city are imagining new possibilities for themselves. You all are providing a safe environment for them to dance and to play, to read and to think, and just have fun and be themselves. You're helping them build the relationships they'll need to thrive -- connections with peers who understand, with adults who listen and offer encouragement, with role models who provide a real-life example of what is possible.

You're showing these girls that being smart, strong, and bold isn't just about getting good grades or staying out of trouble. It also means being a good friend, a good sister or daughter, a good citizen. It means taking care of your body by getting active and eating the right foods. It means giving back to your community and getting engaged with people all around you.

And every day, all of you are opening up new worlds to these girls. Because of you, they are doing things they probably never would have been able to do. They're exploring museums, going to the theater. They're traveling all over the country. They're learning to read. They're learning to balance a checkbook, to change the oil in their car. They're even designing robots.

So with all of your activities and programs, more importantly, with all of the love and support that you pour into these girls, you're not simply giving them something to do -- you're giving them something to be. Maybe it's a scientist, or a teacher. Yes, we got a few scientists in the room. Right on! (Laughter and applause.) Or a teacher, or a businesswoman. Maybe it's being a good student, or class president, or a great teammate. Whatever it is, you're showing them that they can be anything they dream of, as long as they stay true to who they are.

And we all know how important that is for young women.
We know how much pressure there is on our girls to fit in. And we know how many negative messages and images and stereotypes are out there about how they should look, how they should act.

But we also know what it takes for girls to rise above all that. It is possible. It takes supportive communities. It takes caring mentors, and safe places where they can learn and grow, and just be themselves for a while.

I mean, I've seen this in my own life. Growing up, my family didn't have a lot of money. My parents never had the chance to go to college themselves. But they were determined to see me and my brother get a good education. So they did what so many parents are doing out there: They worked, they saved, and they sacrificed everything. They pushed me to get my homework done, and they encouraged me to pursue the things that I loved. And no matter what was going on in our lives, it was always, always clear to me that my parents truly believed in me, and they believed in who I could become. It was always clear to me that my mom and dad were always in my corner. My mom still is. Who else would move to the White House? (Laughter.) Now, that's love.

And because they told me that I was just as smart and as capable as anybody else, I started to believe it. Right? I started to believe it. It became a part of who I was.

And that's exactly what you're doing here at Girls Inc. Every single day, you're giving girls the confidence they need to believe in themselves. They're young girls like Fatuma, from right here in Omaha, who I just met. She was just seven years old, I understand, when she started coming to Girls Inc. almost three years ago. And I understand she didn't speak a word of English. But through the Girls Inc. literacy program, she learned to read and speak so well that when she started school, the school's English as a Second Language program just a year later, they told her that she was too advanced. (Applause.) Absolutely.

Then there are young women like Denai, who started coming to Girls Inc. here in Omaha when she was five years old. She dreamed of being a pediatrician. And today, I understand, she's a freshman at UNL; she's studying biology and pre-med. I also understand that a couple weeks ago, she was one of just two students at the university who was guaranteed a spot in the medicine program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center when she graduates. (Applause.) Yes, indeed.

And stories like these are happening not just here in Omaha, but all across the country. I'm thinking of a young woman named Bianca who goes to school in Washington, D.C. Now, Bianca grew up in Dallas. She lost her mom when she was just two years old, and she often had to step up to help her dad raise her two siblings. And they sometimes struggled to pay the bills, and at one point, Bianca and her family lived in a homeless shelter. But Girls Inc. gave her a place to just be a girl and pursue her interest in math and science. She went on to Howard University to study chemical engineering. She has volunteered in Kenya and the Sudan. She's had internships with the Department of Defense and Carnegie Mellon University. And today, she is speaking on a panel at the White House to encourage other young women to pursue their passion for science and technology. (Applause.)

And here's what she says -- these are her words -- she says, "Without Girls Inc., I would never have had these opportunities. I wouldn't be ready to go on and change the world."

That's why all of us are here today. That's why I am so proud to be the Honorary Board Chair of Girls Inc. -- because I know that these girls will go on to change our world. They absolutely will. I know they will become the doctors and scientists who might one day cure cancer or find new ways to bring clean water to the developing world. They'll become the entrepreneurs who will lead the industries of tomorrow. And they will become the teachers and professors who will inspire the next generation of leaders.

It couldn't be more clear. The success of our economy and the success of our country is directly tied to the success of women. (Applause.) Today, women make up nearly 50 percent of our workforce. They own nearly 30 percent of our small businesses. They're the majority of students in our college and graduate schools. And a growing number of women are their family's breadwinners. So this isn't just about lifting up girls. This is about lifting up America.

Now, more than ever before, our families, businesses -- absolutely -- (applause.) Now more than ever. And our communities, they depend on smart, strong, and bold women to lead the way. So we simply cannot afford to miss out on even one young woman's potential -- can't afford it. If the talent of one girl goes unrecognized, if one girl's dreams go unrealized, if one girl is denied opportunities for reasons that have nothing to do with her talent or character or work ethic, then we all miss out. We are all diminished.

That's why it's up to every single one of us to life up these girls. We all have a role to play in helping them fulfill their potential and pursue their dreams. And that's something that you all have recognized here in Omaha for the past 37 years.

Back then, it was just six girls coming together in a church basement. Wow. Today, you have thousands of girls participating in all sorts of outreach activities. And with each one of those girls, you're living out the words of one of my predecessors, Lady Bird Johnson. And as she said, "Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them." Right?

So I want to thank you all for proving that truth every single day. Thank you for believing in these girls, girls like me. Thank you for helping them believe in themselves. And thank you for loving them and supporting them every step of the way.

And finally, I'd like to end with a special message to all of the girls here. Are you all listening? Girls, are you listening?

AUDIENCE: Yes!

MRS. OBAMA: Okay. Now, I know that all of you have a lot going on in your lives. And I know how hard you all are working at school. It's hard work, right? I know how many responsibilities that you're taking on at home. And I know that it's not always easy. I also know that you might run into folks who doubt you, right? People who might dismiss you. Say you're not ready, you're not good enough, right? Or you might feel like doors are closed to you because of who you are or where you come from.

But I am here today, I came here specifically, to ask you to just keep on working. You guys hear me? I want you all to keep working. Keep on achieving. Just keep on using everything you've learned at Girls Inc. to pursue your dreams. Don't waste any of it.

Because what you need to understand is what you're getting at Girls Inc. -- the skills you're learning, the talents you're developing, the people you meet -- in the end, that is what matters. That's all that matters. And know that no one can ever take that away from you. You hear me? And while you're smart, strong and bold now -- you are, right? -- I know that you're going to keep getting even smarter and even stronger and even bolder every single day. You going to do that for me?

AUDIENCE: Yes.

MRS. OBAMA: So that is why I am proud of all of you. That's why I am so hopeful. (Applause.) And that is why I am hopeful about our country's future. Because when we think about the promise of America, I'm thinking about girls like all of you. So keep on working. Keep that passion and that spirit that makes you who you are. And keep on believing in yourselves because I certainly do. And everyone in this room believes in you. And we can't wait to see what you'll do with your lives in the years ahead.

Love you all. Thank you. God bless. (Applause.)

MS. CHOICE: And now, a few of the Girls Inc. members have a few questions for First Lady Obama.

MRS. OBAMA: Oh, scary. Oh, you're there.

Q My name is Elijiana Parker (ph) and I'm 13 years old. What are some words of advice that you would have for a girl who wants to be in the position that you hold now? (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: Good question. Well, some of it I said at the end of the speech. Some of it is, first of all, keep believing in yourself. And that seems simple, right? That seems like simple advice, but it can be hard at times. But one of the things that I tell my girls is that you have to practice who you want to be every single day. You have to practice that every single day. (Applause.) So you can't wake up in 20 years and expect to be a disciplined person, a good friend, someone who treats others with respect, someone who's reliable. You don't wake up and become that person. You practice it every single day with every interaction that you have. You apply everything you have to it, like you're fighting for every last bit of it, right?

So who you are today really does matter -- what kind of student you are. Are you putting your best efforts into your school work? Are you trying new things? Are you treating others with the kind of respect you want back? Are you informed and engaged in the world? Do you know how to have fun? Do you know how to laugh at yourself? Do you know how to take a punch and get up?

I mean, I tell my kids every day, it's easy to get the A. You don't have to react when you get the A -- that's easy. The question is, what happens when you get the D or the C? How do you respond? Do you shrivel up, or do you get back up and figure out how to improve? That's resilience. But you've got to practice that.

So who you all are today, what you're doing today, how you relate to people -- that matters. So think about that. And don't be afraid to dream big. You have to see yourself in a place. You have to be able to see yourself as that scientist, as the next President of the United States. You can be First Lady if you want to, but there's also the presidency. (Laughter and applause.)

Q My name is Aviera Pittman, I am 12 years old. Do you believe you are strong, smart and bold, and why?

MRS. OBAMA: Oh. (Laughter.) Yes, absolutely, right? I'm strong, smart and bold. (Applause.) You know, I shared that story -- I think I believed in it because others believed in it. I had a mom and dad who had high expectations that were accompanied with a lot of unconditional love and support.

And when you've got people in your ear telling you that you're wonderful, you start believing it. And that's why what you have here at Girls Inc. is so important. Believe what people are saying about you. Believe that. Take in that good energy. Own it. Hug it. Accept it. All the good things you hear, the positive messages -- take those. Put the negative things aside, because that's always going to be there. There's always going to be -- what do we call it, girls? There's always going to be haters out there? (Laughter.) Don't focus on that.

Focus on the people in your life who give you positive reinforcement. And it doesn't have to be a parent. It can be anybody. I was lucky enough to have parents, but I also had some great teachers and mentors and people in my life that I would pull them in if I got some good energy, I'd just keep pulling on it. So gravitate to the positive. Stay away from the haters, okay? (Laughter and applause.)

Q My name is Aria Renee Green (ph), I am nine years old. Why do you eat your meals from your very own garden?

MRS. OBAMA: Oh, it's a good question. Because they are so delicious. (Laughter.) No, seriously. Because one of the reasons we planted the garden was to begin a conversation about healthy eating and how to get kids to put more vegetables in their diets.

And one of the things that I learned with my kids was that when food was grown fresh, if you got it from your garden or from a farmer's market or from a fresh produce section, it tastes better. So it tastes pretty good.

And I wanted to pass on those messages to all kids in this country. I didn't just want my girls to grow up healthy. I want all of our girls to grow up healthy. So we have to have this conversation about good health. We want to make sure you understand what you're learning here at Girls Inc. -- that it's not just important what goes into your head, but you have to take care of your entire body and nourish it, and treat it as the temple that it is. You've got to put good stuff in there. And you've got to move it. You got to build up your muscles. (Applause.)

Thank you, sweetie.

All right, I think that's it. I'm going to come down and shake some hands, okay? You all right? Thank you all.

END 12:52 P.M. CDT

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 25, 2012 8:53 AM.

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