While campaigning for her husband in New Mexico on Thursday, Michelle Obama took some time to talk with the Las Vegas Optic.
Obama didn’t take the bait when asked about GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s remarks during her speech at the national convention Wednesday evening.
“I was out on the campaign trail and missed the speech, so I don’t have a direct comment,” Obama said during a telephone interview. “My goal in this campaign is to really keep the focus on Barack and what his plans are for the country — that’s really what this is about in the end. Voters have shown that times are so hard and there’s so many issues facing the average family that they really want to know from the candidates (about their stands on the) issues.”
Obama said as she does military family roundtables around the country, people are asking how they can make sure that when American troops are sent to war, the families left behind are being cared for.
“When you hear the stories of young mothers who are seeing their spouses go away for their second or third tours of duty, many who haven’t spent time with their new kids, struggling to pay the mortgage, trying to get an education and making sure their children are getting a decent education and not feeling that they have the sufficient support of the federal government to help them, they want to know what you are going to do about that,” Obama said.
She said she spent the day talking about her husband’s plans to expand the Veterans Affairs Department.
“We need a president like Barack Obama who’s going to make sure that GI bill gets passed this time and doesn’t get vetoed so that when they return home they can get the benefits that his grandfather was able to get, which is finishing their education and maybe seeing their kids and families get their education,” she said. “So that’s what I tend to focus my attention on and that’s what I’ve been doing during my visit to New Mexico today.”
Obama said she thinks the state has done a good job and is fortunate to have a strong VA system here.
“Not everyone is as lucky, and even with that VA system, there are still huge delays — months and months of delays for veterans to get benefits. That will not be tolerated under a Barack Obama presidency,” Obama said.
Obama also spoke about the dilemma Americans face when it comes to health care.
“I’m meeting more and more families that only have catastrophic insurance, which means they don’t have the resources if somebody needs stitches or needs to be seen for a high fever. You’re seeing families put off basic medical care because of the lack of insurance,” Obama said. “What Barack is proposing to do by the end of his first term is to implement a universal health care program that would allow people to keep their current insurance if it works for them because there are still many people who are fortunate enough to have good policies.
“So people wouldn’t feel that the good policies that they have would be at risk, but it would set up a safety net for the many people who fall through the cracks when they’re changing jobs or if their health condition changes at the point in time when they need new insurance or for the 47 million Americans who have no insurance at all,” Obama said.
Obama said her husband is also talking about reducing the cost of premiums for the average family and developed an extensive plan for creating a universal health care system that works. She said even big business is feeling the pinch of rising costs for health care.
When asked if her husband would be visiting Las Vegas before the election, Obama said she wasn’t sure where they would be.
“We will absolutely be back in New Mexico because this is a battleground state. I can’t say for sure exactly where we will be, but we will be back and for sure Barack will be here,” she said.
“We’ve invested a lot in this state because we believe we can win here, but we take nothing for granted. We’ve got to work hard for these next 60 days. We’re also pushing voter registration, so please mention that is going to be critical. People sitting on the sidelines have got to register to vote,” Obama said.