Michelle Obama on Thursday unleashed on Donald Trump over the various sexual-assault controversies looming over his campaign.
At a campaign event for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, the first lady delivered a lengthy emotional speech condemning Trump’s lewd 2005 statements boasting about grabbing and kissing women without their permission.
Obama characterized Trump’s comments that he could “grab” women “by the p—y” as “so shocking, and so demeaning, that I simply will not repeat anything here today.”
“I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women,” Obama said, in a speech that Clinton’s campaign called one of the “most powerful and emotional” of the campaign. “I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”
She added: “So while I’d love nothing more than to pretend that this isn’t happening, and to come out here and give my normal campaign speech, it’d be dishonest and disingenuous for me to just move on the to the next thing like it’s a bad dream.”
The first lady said Trump’s comments, as well as new allegations of sexual misconduct by Trump from several women, amounted to “sexually predatory behavior.”
Obama used examples of harassment in the workplace, in school, and in everyday interactions to illustrate what she perceived as the danger of Trump’s candidacy.
“The shameful comments about our bodies, the disrespect of our ambitions and intellect, belief that you can do anything you want to a woman,” Obama said. “It is cruel. It is frightening. And the truth is it hurts. It’s like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you’re walking down the street minding your own business and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or like that guy at work who stands a little too close, stares a little too long.”
She also attempted to reach out to men and members of other political parties, suggesting that many men were “sickened” by Trump’s dismissal of his comments as “locker-room talk.”
“This is disgraceful. It’s intolerable. It doesn’t matter what party you belong to – Democrat, Republican, Independent – no woman deserves to be treated this way. No woman deserves that kind of abuse.”
She added: “To dismiss this as innocent locker-room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere. The men that you and I know don’t treat women this way.”
Obama has made empowering women and girls a major part of her advocacy as first lady. She founded an official summit on women’s issues earlier this year and established the Let Girls Learn initiative dedicated to increasing education for women across the globe.