First Lady Michelle Obama weighed in on the leaked tape of Donald Trump’s predatory comments about women at length in a powerful speech Thursday, calling his comments “disturbing” and “shocking.”
Campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Manchester, New Hampshire, Obama expressed disbelief that a presidential candidate made such remarks.
“The fact is that in this election, we have a candidate for president of the United States who, over the course of his lifetime and the course of this campaign has said things about women that are so shocking. So demeaning,” she said. “I simply will not repeat anything here today. And last week we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women. And I can’t believe that I’m saying that.”
Obama said she felt compelled to speak out against Trump’s comments because of how disturbing they are.
“It would be dishonest and disingenuous for me to move on to the next thing like this was just a bad dream,” she said. “This is not something we can ignore. It’s not something we can sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season. Because this was not just a lewd conversation. This wasn’t locker room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior.”
Obama focused much of her speech squarely on Trump, though she never spoke his name. She expressed her disgust for Trump’s comments not only as a woman, but as a mother to two girls.
“I feel it so personally. And I’m sure that many of you do too. Particularly the women,” she said. “The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman. It is cruel. It is frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It’s like that sick sinking feeling you get when you’re walking down the street minding your own business. Some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares just a little too long, you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.”
Obama said that the need to push back against Trump’s comments should transcend political party.
“This is disgraceful. It is intolerable,” she said. “Doesn’t matter what party you belong to. No woman deserves to be treated this way. No one deserves this kind of abuse. I know it’s a campaign, but this isn’t about politics. It’s about basic human decency. It’s about right and wrong. We cannot endure this or expose our children to this for any longer. Not for another minute, let alone four years.”
She went on to emphasize that the characterization of Trump’s comments as “locker room” talk that’s normal for all men is disrespectful to men and boys.
“How is this affecting men and boys in this country? Because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this,” Obama said. “I know my family is not unusual. To dismiss this every day locker room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere. The men that you and I know don’t treat women this way. They are loving fathers sickened by the thought of their daughters being exposed to this kind of language about women. They are us fathers and brothers and sons who don’t tolerate women being treated and demeaned. Like us, the men are worried about the impact this election is looking for boys, role models for what it means to be a man.”
Obama channelled her comments into a push for votes for Hillary Clinton, saying she represents everything that Trump is not.
“We need someone who will heal the wounds that divide us,” she said. “Someone who truly cares about us and our children. Someone with strength and compassion to lead this country forward. I’m here today because I believe with all of my heart that Hillary Clinton will be that president.”