First lady Michelle Obama was especially frank Thursday evening when addressing a crowd of about 150 Chicago donors about the best way to influence politics: “Write the biggest, fattest check that you can possibly write.”
Here to raise money for the national Democratic Party, the first lady also put in a plug for local Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn, pledging to “do everything in our power to make sure he gets over the finish line. He is the guy for this state.”
And Obama minced no words about what it takes to win.
Headlining an event for the Democratic National Committee at the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago, she told donors there was something each of them could do “right now” to make a difference.
“And that is to write a big, fat check. I kid you not. I’m going to be honest with you, that’s what we need you to do right now,” she said. “We need you to write the biggest, fattest check that you can possibly write.”
“Writing those checks is the single most impactful thing that you can do right now,” she continued. “When you dig deep, when you max out, that translates into staff hired and offices opened and ads running where they need to run.”
Digging deep, she said, translates into support for Democratic issues such as reforming immigration and boosting the minimum wage. She also made a veiled reference to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling with regard to women’s reproductive rights.
“I want to be really clear with my friends: If you think folks who work 40 or 50 hours a week shouldn’t have to live in poverty in the wealthiest nation on earth, if you believe in science and you care about the planet that you’re leaving for your kids and grandkids, if you don’t want women’s bosses making decisions about their birth control, if you want your kids to have quality preschool and the college education they need to fulfill every last bit of their God-given potential, then you need to step up.
“You need to dig deep. And you need to get everyone you know out to vote this November. That’s no joke.”
The first lady took a moment to give a special plug to Quinn, who was attending the event.
“Gov. Quinn has been a great friend and a fantastic partner in our work on military families, she said. “And I’m looking forward to doing more work with you in the years to come, because I’m going to be voting for this man. And we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure he gets over the finish line. He is the guy for this state. ”
President Barack Obama himself has previously vowed to stump for Quinn as well in what is already a contentious 2014 election. Quinn is locked in a high-dollar battle with Republican Bruce Rauner, who is spending millions of dollars in an attempt to unseat the Democratic incumbent.
Both Rauner and Quinn —or their supporters — have already launched TV attack ads in the race.
The first lady also gave a nod to Reggie Love, a former longtime personal aide to the president, who was in the Chicago audience.
Tickets for the fundraiser started at $500 per person and ranged upwards to $10,000 and $20,000 per couple.
Obama’s 20-minute speech covered obstructionist politics in Congress, campaign finance as well as health care, according to a pool report of the event.
“It’s gotten so bad, they’re even trying to block the work that I do on childhood obesity. And that’s really saying something,” she said, referring to Republicans. “I mean, for most folks in this country, making sure our kids get decent nutrition shouldn’t be that controversial. ”
Obama also spoke of the violence that’s playing out in Chicago streets, when making a pitch that children are “counting on us to stand up for them this November.”
“They’re kids like the kids here in Chicago who are confronting outrageous levels of violence; kids who are losing their lives day after day to shootings that devastate our communities and break our hearts, and rob this country of so much talent and promise,” she said, without specifically mentioning any victims by name. “Those kids deserve so much better than this.”
Here is an audio excerpt from Thursday’s event: