At a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire this week, First Lady Michelle Obama did not mince words when addressing the recent cloud of controversy surrounding Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“Last week, we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women,” Obama told the crowd in Manchester. “I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”
During her previous appearances in support of Clinton, including a speech delivered at the Democratic National Convention in July, Obama has often referenced Trump only by insinuation. But the First Lady said it would be “dishonest and disingenuous” of her to simply gloss over the recently released videos of Trump that suggest a pattern of predatory sexual behavior.
“It’s not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season,” she said. “This is not normal. This is not politics as usual.”
In addition to the video from 2005, the New York Times has recently reported two separate accounts of women who claim to have been victims of unwarranted sexual advances from Donald Trump, including a then 22-year-old receptionist who worked at Trump Tower.
Trump’s campaign has denied the accusations from the Times, though even if they do prove true it may be all too unsurprising: polls suggest that one in three women between the ages of 18 to 34 have experienced some kind of sexual harassment at work.
In her speech Thursday, Michelle Obama acknowledged the impact such attitudes and behaviors can have on all women.
“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.”
Obama used the comments to drive home her view that Trump would make an unfit president.
“If we have a president who routinely degrades women, who brags about sexually assaulting women,” she asked, “then how can we maintain our moral authority in the world?”