Former Attorney General Eric Holder riffed on former first lady Michelle Obama’s famous line — “When they go low, we go high” — in a speech over the weekend, urging Democrats to push back against Republican voter suppression efforts.
“When they go low, we kick ’em,” Holder said to applause from a small crowd of Georgia Democrats. Holder noted later that he simply wanted Democrats to “be tough,” not do anything “inappropriate” or “illegal.”
Holder chairs the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which has filed lawsuits in Georgia and elsewhere alleging that congressional and state voting districts were drawn to discriminate against African American voters. Democratic state house candidate Regina Lewis-Ward and attorney general candidate Charlie Bailey spoke before Holder on Sunday.
“They want to keep themselves in power,” Holder said in the stump speech. Video of the event surfaced Wednesday, spurring a wave of coverage from conservative and mainstream outlets, and from the Republican Party itself. “They want to cater to the special interests. It is time for us, as Democrats, to be as tough as they are, to be as dedicated as they are, to be as committed as they are.”
“Michelle [Obama] always says that when they go low, we go high,” Holder continued. “No. When they go low, we kick ‘em. That’s what this new Democratic Party is about. We’re proud as hell to be Democrats. We’re going to fight for the ideals of the Democratic Party.”
Holder added a caveat later in the speech: “Now, when I say, you know, ‘we kick ‘em,’ I don’t mean we do anything inappropriate. We don’t do anything illegal. But we’ve got to be tough and we’ve got to fight for the very things that John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Whitney Young, all those folks gave to us. That stuff can be taken away. That’s what they want to do.”
Multiple outlets — The Federalist, The Washington Times, Twitchy, The Daily Caller, Hot Air, The Howie Carr Show, Grabien — initially failed to include Holder’s caveat about not doing “anything inappropriate” or “illegal.” The Washington Post and CNN did.
This post has been updated.