Michelle Obama: ‘When they go low, we go high’

Updated 5:53 PM EDT, Tue July 26, 2016
First lady Michelle Obama acknowledges the crowd before delivering remarks on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
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Story highlights

Michelle Obama addressed the DNC Monday night

The first lady is a powerful surrogate to Clinton

(CNN) —  

Michelle Obama cast the presidential race as one between a positive role model for children – in Hillary Clinton – and a damaging one – in Donald Trump – in the marquee speech on the Democratic National Convention’s opening night.

The first lady never mentioned Trump by name, but leveraging her popularity, she made a rare, if not unprecedented, foray into partisan politics to knock the Republican nominee.

Obama condemned “the hateful language that we hear from public figures on TV,” saying that “our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”

And in a shot at Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan, Obama discussed raising her children in a White House that was built by slaves.

Memorable lines from the DNC’s opening night

“Don’t let anyone tell you that this country isn’t great. This right now is the greatest country on earth,” the first lady said.

Obama electrified the crowd at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, taking the stage just after 10 p.m. ET and – in a departure from the political attacks on display all day – making the case that, because of her character and temperament, Clinton is the role model she’d like her daughters to see in the Oval Office.

Even Trump, who Obama was implicitly criticizing, praised her remarks.

“I thought her delivery was excellent,” Trump told The Hollywood Reporter. “I thought she did a very good job. I liked her speech.”

It was a remarkable embrace of the prime-time stage for Obama, who was reluctant about the spotlight that came when her husband, then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, launched his presidential campaign against Clinton in 2007.

“To understand the journey she’s taken as a reluctant conscript on the public scene, to come here and command that stage the way she did tonight was extraordinary – and I think did for Hillary Clinton what no one else has done to this point,” said David Axelrod, a top Obama strategist on the 2008 campaign and now a CNN political commentator.