Nerve struck. Michelle Obama characterized Donald Trump’s recently leaked comments about women below “basic standards of human decency” during a rally for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire on Thursday, October 13.
The first lady, 52, was visibly shaken as she passionately denounced the 70-year-old Republican presidential nominee for making vulgar remarks about women in a 2005 video leaked on Friday, October 7. In the footage, Trump — who has repeatedly come under fire for his degrading remarks about women — can be heard bragging to then–Access Hollywood host Billy Bush about kissing women and grabbing their genitals.
“I can’t believe I’m saying a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women,” Obama said, telling the crowd that she had decided to forgo a “normal campaign speech” in favor of a more opinionated approach in light of the recent events.
“I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted,” she told the crowd. “[It would be] dishonest and disingenuous to me to just move on to the next thing like this was all just a bad dream. It’s not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season.”
Obama also referenced the most recent story in The New York Times, published on Wednesday, October 12, detailing two women’s allegations that the real estate mogul had groped and touched them inappropriately decades ago, noting that “it now seems very clear” that the footage released Friday wasn’t “an isolated incident.”
“I listen to all of this, and I feel it so personally,” 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’s frightening, and the truth is, it hurts.”
“I know this is a campaign, but this isn’t about politics,” she said. “It’s about basic human decency.”
Since the footage surfaced, Trump has apologized for his words and defended them as “locker room talk.” And during the second presidential debate on Sunday, October 9, he denied that he had ever sexually assaulted any women.
This isn’t the first time that the first lady has taken issue with the former Apprentice host. In late September, Obama spoke at a rally at La Salle University in Philadelphia and declared Trump unfit for office.
In reference to Trump’s claims that her husband, President Barack Obama, was not born in the United States, the usually poised Michelle became indignant.
“And let me say, [these were] hurtful, deceitful questions deliberately designed to undermine his presidency,” she said at the time. “Questions that cannot be blamed on others or swept under the rug by an insincere sentence at a press conference. Let me take a moment. … Because when making life-or-death, war-or-peace decisions, a president just can’t pop off or lash out irrationally. No. We need an adult in the White House.”
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