Michelle Obama slams Trump and calls for empathy at Democratic National Convention

Screenshot/Democratic National CommitteeThe former first lady Michelle Obama.
  • The former first lady Michelle Obama delivered a sober speech during the first night of the Democratic National Convention that framed the November election as an urgent choice between recovery and continued crisis.
  • On Monday evening, she called on Americans to choose empathy over hatred and division and strongly condemned President Donald Trump’s character.
  • Obama focused on Joe Biden’s character and leadership qualities, contrasting the presumptive Democratic nominee with President Donald Trump.
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The former first lady Michelle Obama delivered a sober speech during the first night of the Democratic National Convention that framed the November election as an urgent choice between recovery and continued crisis.

“If you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this: If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me they can – and they will – if we don’t make a change in this election,” she said in an 18-minute prerecorded speech that aired Monday evening.

She called on Americans to choose empathy over hatred and division and strongly condemned President Donald Trump’s character and politics. She argued that Trump was modelling “that greed is good and winning is everything,” but held that most Americans “know that what’s going on in this country is just not right.”

“Sadly, this is the America that is on display for the next generation – a nation that’s underperforming not simply on matters of policy but on matters of character,” she said. “And that’s not just disappointing – it’s downright infuriating.”

While the former first lady has been reluctant to wade into politics, she called out Trump by name on Monday night.

“Let me be as honest and clear as I can: Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she said. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

She added, “It is what it is” – the same words Trump recently used to refer to the US’s COVID-19 death toll.

And she contrasted Joe Biden’s leadership qualities and character with Trump’s, noting that she knows the presumptive Democratic nominee well on a personal level.

“I know Joe. He is a profoundly decent man guided by faith,” Obama said. “He listens. He will tell the truth and trust science. He will make smart plans and manage a good team. And he will govern as someone who’s lived a life the rest of us can recognise.”

Obama mentioned Biden’s experience with personal tragedy, including the deaths of his first wife and baby daughter in 1972 and his son Beau’s death in 2015, arguing that he understood Americans’ pain and suffering.

“His life is a testament to getting back up – and he is going to channel that same grit and passion to pick us all up, to help us heal, and guide us forward,” she said.

Obama also called on Americans to vote and condemned voter-suppression efforts, including Trump’s efforts to discourage mail-in voting.

“We’ve got to vote early, in person if we can. We’ve got to request our mail-in ballots right now, tonight, and send them back immediately and follow-up to make sure they’re received,” she said. “And then, make sure our friends and families do the same.”

Obama didn’t mention Sen. Kamala Harris’ vice-presidential nomination because her speech was filmed before Biden announced his running mate last week, CNN reported.

The former first lady has for years been considered the most popular and galvanizing Democratic figure, along with her husband, Barack Obama, and was the “most admired” woman in the world in 2018 and 2019 in Gallup polling.

But Obama has repeatedly insisted that she has no future in politics and has spent the past four years writing her best-selling memoir “Becoming,” building the Obama Foundation, promoting key issues like voter participation, and launching a new podcast.

Obama’s influence and popularity go far beyond the political sphere, making her one of the most powerful people scheduled to speak at this week’s convention, along with her husband and Biden.

Watch the full speech:

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