First Lady Michelle Obama told Oprah Winfrey in an interview that aired Monday that the 2016 election was painful for her as a citizen and that Americans are now feeling what “not having hope feels like.”
With her time as first lady winding down, Obama sat down with the famed talk show host and explained her thoughts on the election, her husband’s presidency and the public’s perception of her. A common face on the campaign trail stumping for Hillary Clinton, Obama said that the election was particularly hard for her.
“You know, this — this past election was challenging for me as a — as a citizen. To watch and experience. It was painful,” she said.
Obama said that she went to bed on Nov. 8 not knowing that Trump won, but being prepared for either outcome. Referencing her husband’s campaign slogan, she said the frustration many feel with the outcome of the election is what “not having hope feels like.”
“See, now we’re feeling what not having hope feels like. You know? Hope is necessary,” she said. “It’s a necessary concept. And Barack didn’t just talk about hope because he thought it was just a nice slogan to get votes. I mean, he and I and so many believe that if you — what else do you have if you don’t have hope?”
But Obama was quick not to disparage President-elect Donald Trump, saying that she wants to respect him as he transitions into the White House, which she feels did not happen not when her own husband took office.
“The words that we say moving forward, all of us, it matters. Which is one of the reasons why Barack and I are so supportive of this transition,” she said. “Because no matter how we felt going into it, it is important for the health of this nation that we support the commander-in-chief. Wasn’t done when my husband took office.”
“There were people in Congress. There were leaders in Congress who did not support his presidency, which was not something that was good for the country,” Obama continued. “It was good for politics, but it wasn’t good for the country. And that wasn’t the right way to approach it.”
Watch a clip below via CBS: