Michelle Obama took to the stump for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in New Hampshire Thursday, delivering a powerful and personal speech denouncing Donald Trump’s demeaning comments about women and alluding to the sexual assault allegations brought against the Republican presidential candidate.
“I can’t believe I’m saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women. I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted,” Obama said. “This is not something we can ignore… This wasn’t just a lewd conversation, this wasn’t just locker-room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior.”
The first lady drew on personal experiences to illustrate her point. Earlier this week, she hosted ceremonies for International Day of the Girl to benefit one of her favorite charities, the Let Girls Learn Initiative. Obama contrasted the optimism and uplift of that day with her worries about Trump’s comments affecting impressionable children.
“Consider this: If this is so painful to us grown women, what is this doing to our children?” Obama said. “What is it telling young girls about how they should look and act? What lessons are they learning about their value as professionals, as human beings, about their dreams and aspirations? How is this affecting men and boys in this country?”
Without quoting Trump in the leaked Access Hollywood footage from 2005, she tackled the notion that Trump’s remarks are representative of typical conversations among men. “I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this, and I know my family is not unusual. To dismiss this as ‘locker-room talk’ is an insult to decent men everywhere.”
Obama added: “This is not how adults behave, this is not how decent human beings behave, and this is not how someone who wants to be president of the United States behaves. Because men who are truly strong don’t need to put women down to make themselves feel powerful. People who are truly strong lift each other up.”
In the midst of Obama’s speech, Lady Gaga and writer Elizabeth Meriwether took to Twitter to react to the first lady’s words. Gaga said the speech left her in tears, while Meriwether expressed her gratitude for Obama taking a stand.
— JOANNE (@ladygaga) October 13, 2016
Thank you Michelle Obama.
— Liz Meriwether (@lizmeriwether) October 13, 2016
Watch the full video of Obama’s speech below, via Hillary Clinton’s Facebook page.