Obama praises Mpls. couple in State of the Union address

Rebekah Erler at the State of the Union
First lady Michelle Obama applauds on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress. From left are, Anthony Mendez, Mrs. Obama, Rebekah Erler and Jill Biden.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Updated: 7:45 a.m. | Posted: 6:15 a.m.

President Barack Obama highlighted a Minneapolis couple for their resilience in the face of economic turmoil in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

Rebekah Erler, of Minneapolis, made her political mark in June 2014 when Obama met with her over Jucy Lucys at Matt's Bar during a trip to Minneapolis just ahead of the midterm elections. She was among first lady Michelle Obama's guests at the Tuesday address.

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Erler, a 36-year-old accountant and mother of two preschool-aged boys, found herself on the White House's radar after writing a letter to the president, recounting the story of her family's struggles during the recession.

Erler and her husband Ben were newlyweds seven years ago. She waited tables as Ben Erler launched a construction business, shortly before the start of the recession.

" 'If only we had known,' Rebekah wrote to me last spring, 'what was about to happen to the housing and construction market,' " President Obama said.

"As the crisis worsened, Ben's business dried up, so he took what jobs he could find, even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time. Rebekah took out student loans and enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career. They sacrificed for each other. And slowly, it paid off."

Rebekah Erler got a better job and a raise, and Ben Erler is back in construction. The Erlers also recently bought their first home.

"America, Rebekah and Ben's story is our story. They represent the millions who worked hard, who scrimped and sacrificed and retooled. You are the reason I ran for this office," Obama said.