Though she did not mention the Republican presidential nominee by name, it was clear that the candidate — and the volley of allegations of sexual misconduct lodged against him by multiple women — were the targets of the first lady’s remarks.
“The fact is that, in this election we have a candidate for president of the United States who, over the course of his lifetime and over the course of this campaign, has said things about women that are so shocking, so demeaning, I simply will not repeat anything here today,” she said.
Referring to the recently released 2005 recording of Trump making lewd comments about groping and kissing women without consent, Obama said, “I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women.”
It wasn’t the first time the first lady has not-so-subtly blasted the GOP nominee. Obama took Trump to task for his divisive rhetoric during her speech at the Democratic National Convention in July, and again for his propagation of the so-called birther conspiracy while campaigning for Clinton in Virginia last month — each time refraining from using his name.
“I can’t stop thinking about this,” she said about Trump’s comments in New Hampshire, as she appeared to choke back tears. “It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”
Obama also said that while she would love to pretend the comments heard in the video were “just a bad dream,” to not address them “would be dishonest and disingenuous.”
This was not “just locker room banter,” she said, referring to Trump’s defense of the comments. “It was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior.”
In fact, she added, to “dismiss this as everyday locker room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere.”
Now, Obama continued, presumably referring to allegations that have surfaced in the past 24 hours from four women who say Trump touched them inappropriately, “it seems very clear that this wasn’t an isolated incident, but an example of how he’s treated women his entire life.”
This kind of behavior is “cruel, it’s frightening, and the truth is it hurts,” Obama said, arguing that “too many are treating [Trump’s] comments as just another day’s headline. … As if our outrage is overblown or unwarranted, as if this is normal, politics as usual.”
But this is not normal, she insisted. “This is disgraceful, this is intolerable,” and whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, “no woman deserves to be treated this way.”
Now is the time to say “enough is enough,” she argued, imploring the attentive New Hampshire crowd to consider, “If all of this is painful to us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children?”
She went further, noting that the behavior on display in the hot mic video of Trump and Billy Bush, then an “Access Hollywood” host, sends skewed messages to little girls about “what they should look like” and “how they should act.” Then she asked how is it “affecting the men and boys in this country?”
“Strong men don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful,” she said, declaring that, “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.”
By the time she’d left the stage in Manchester, “Michelle Obama” was among the top trending terms on Twitter, as people emphatically shared the speech far beyond New Hampshire.