Michelle Obama calls out ‘birtherism’ at campaign stop for Clinton

00:51 - Source: CNN
First lady Michelle Obama addresses birther controversy

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First Lady Michelle Obama campaigned for Hillary Clinton in Virginia

Obama aims to continue the legacy of her husband, President Barack Obama

Washington CNN —  

First Lady Michelle Obama denounced the caustic campaign style of Donald Trump on Friday, demonstrating a new willingness to wade into this year’s messy political battle while arguing for a Hillary Clinton presidency.

While she didn’t mention Trump by name, the first lady aimed squarely at the Republican candidate’s most pronounced positions and tactics, including his persistent challenges to her husband’s eligibility for office.

“There were those who questioned and continue to question for the past eight years, up through this very day, whether my husband was even born in this country,” Obama said in Fairfax, Virginia, during her first solo campaign appearance for Clinton. “Well, during his time in office, I think Barack has answered those questions with the example he set by going high when they go low.”

The first lady was speaking hours after Trump – who for five years has etched a reputation as the country’s highest-profile “birther,” questioning if the President was born in the US – admitted that Obama was born in America.

It was a rare moment of unvarnished political firepower from the first lady, who has largely remained outside of – and above – the political fracas this year. Once designated “The Closer” on her husband’s campaigns for the White House, Obama on Friday entered a race more bitterly fought than either of her husband’s own election battles.

In her half-hour-long remarks, she argued Trump’s brand of politics should be kept far from the Oval Office, predicting his bombastic style of campaigning wouldn’t mellow if he wins.

“Being president isn’t anything like reality TV,” she said. “It’s not about sending insulting tweets or making fiery speeches, it’s about whether or not the candidate can handle the awesome responsibility of leading this country.”

She continued: “If a candidate is erratic and threatening; if a candidate traffics in prejudice, fears and lies on the trail; if a candidate has no clear plans to implement their goals; if they disrespect their fellow citizens, including folks who made extraordinary sacrifices for our country; let me tell you, that is who they are. That is the kind of president they will be, trust me.”

With virtually unmatched popularity at her back, Michelle Obama sought to cast the race as a make-or-break moment for the country’s future. She was debuting on the stump Friday in the hopes of galvanizing suburban voters behind a candidate she once fiercely opposed.

Obama: “I really, really, really want to elect Hillary Clinton”

“When she didn’t win the presidency in 2008, she didn’t throw in the towel,” the first lady said of Clinton. “She once again answered the call to serve, keeping us safe as our secretary of state. And let me tell you, Hillary has the resilience that it takes to do this job. See, because when she gets knocked down, she doesn’t complain or cry foul. No, she gets right back up and she comes back stronger for the people who need her the most.”

At her campaign rally, Obama worked to convince her and her husband’s supporters that Clinton is also worthy of their votes. The rally on the campus of George Mason University was timed ahead of the commonwealth’s October 17 voter registration deadline.

“When I hear folks saying they’re not inspired this this election, I disagree. I am inspired,” she said, urging the crowd to register to vote and actually cast ballots for Clinton.

Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high”