First Lady Rips Trump for "Obscene" Talk, "Abuse" of Women

First Lady Rips Trump for "Obscene" Talk, "Abuse" of Women
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Michelle Obama, during an unprecedented public condemnation of a presidential nominee by a first lady, accused Donald Trump Thursday of engaging in sexually predatory behavior over decades, which she said disqualified him for the office and made him unfit to serve as a leader or a role model, particularly among children.

“Enough is enough,” the first lady said during a scathing put-down delivered in New Hampshire hours before Trump refuted published accounts this week by a handful of women who independently accused the real estate mogul of accosting them over a span of years.

“This wasn’t just locker room banter,” she said, referring to an 11-year-old video clip of Trump boasting about using his star power to kiss women he found attractive and grab their genitalia. During Sunday’s debate with Hillary Clinton in St. Louis, Trump apologized for his remarks, which he dismissed as “locker room talk.” The GOP nominee told debate moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN that he never acted in the manner he described to the host of “Access Hollywood.”

The first lady, who was campaigning for Clinton, said she was so shaken by the raunchy Trump video clip that she could not dismiss it from her mind.

“This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior, and actually bragging about kissing and groping women, using language so obscene that many of us were worried about our children hearing it when we turn on the TV,” she said. “And to make matters worse, it now seems very clear that this isn’t an isolated incident. It’s one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life,” Michelle Obama said, without referring to Trump by name.

Clinton, while fundraising in California, praised the first lady for her remarks, while Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign chief, told reporters she did “a brilliant job” of repudiating the Republican nominee. Clinton’s lead in the RealClearPolitics averages expanded in the wake of two presidential debates and Trump’s self-inflicted stumbles since late September. The rivals are scheduled to debate for the final time in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Michelle Obama, known for her advocacy of women and girls, especially in education, minced no words while arguing in an emotion-filled voice that Trump’s flaws extend beyond politics.

“New Hampshire, be clear: This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable.  And it doesn’t matter what party you belong to -- Democrat, Republican, independent -- no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserves this kind of abuse,” she said, describing the outrage she said many people felt. “I know it’s a campaign, but this isn’t about politics. It’s about basic human decency. It’s about right and wrong. And we simply cannot endure this, or expose our children to this any longer -- not for another minute, and let alone for four years. Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. This has got to stop right now.”

The first lady, who famously said during the Democratic National Convention that when critics “go low,” the Obamas “go high,” did nothing to mask her contempt for Trump, who stoked a falsehood for years that President Obama was not born in the United States and was illegitimate as president.

Trump’s explanation that his crude banter about women was regrettable and embarrassing but was harmless repartee “is an insult to decent men everywhere,” she continued.

“The men that you and I know don’t treat women this way,” she told the audience to loud applause. “They are loving fathers who are sickened by the thought of their daughters being exposed to this kind of vicious language about women. They are husbands and brothers and sons who don’t tolerate women being treated and demeaned and disrespected. And like us, these men are worried about the impact this election is having on our boys who are looking for role models of what it means to be a man.”

During the final weeks of a venomous presidential contest in which pollsters have calculated an enormous gender gap, the first lady’s remarks were intended to strike a nerve among women voters, who favor Clinton by double digits. Obama’s comments were unlikely to dampen Trump’s significant following among non-college-educated white men. Nevertheless, the first lady’s direct appeal to men -- especially college-educated men of all political persuasions who dislike Trump but distrust Clinton -- was noteworthy.

The Republican nominee, Michelle Obama said, used “shocking” language and “demeaning” treatment of women to try to enlarge his sense of power, a dominance he exploited. It was an observation about Trump often voiced on the campaign trail by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has called the New York businessman “small,” “petty,” and “a bully.”

Vice President Joe Biden, who as a senator in 1994 helped enact the Violence Against Women Act, also campaigned for Clinton Thursday, and struck a similar theme. 

“I’m tired of new politicians who want to go to Washington to demean women,” Biden said in Las Vegas. “His admission of what is the textbook definition of sexual assault -- I’m talking about Trump, obviously -- is not inconsistent with the ways in which he’s abused power all along … This is a guy who said he rooted for the collapse of the housing market because that was good business, he could make money.”

President Obama on Friday will campaign for Clinton and encourage early voting during an event in Cleveland, continuing his rounds of swing states that will determine the election’s outcome. The president this month is expected to appear in South Florida for Clinton during a make-up date after Hurricane Matthew postponed a planned rally. On Thursday while in Pittsburgh, the president also taped a skit with “The Late Show’s” Stephen Colbert, to broadcast Monday.

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com.  Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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