After a chaotic first day of the Democratic National Convention, which underlined the divisions among the party’s voters, First Lady Michelle Obama gave Hillary Clinton a better endorsement than any the candidate could have hoped for. Portraying herself and her husband as parents first, concerned for their own daughters and for the future of children across the nation, she was emphatic that the only candidate this election year who could take on the same mission was the former secretary of state.
“Hillary understands that being a president is about one thing and one thing only: about leaving something better for our kids,” Obama said in her rousing, moving, and likely historical speech. Her remarks echoed a narrative the Clinton campaign recently rolled out in a TV ad: Donald Trump, with his incendiary language, is no role model for children.
The first lady’s speech was deeply personal, as she spoke both about her daughters and her heritage. She said her own story was that of America, a resilient, striving nation.
“The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done, so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful intelligent black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn,” the first lady said, to an enthusiastic reaction of the audience at the Wells Fargo Center.
Visibly moved, Obama credited Clinton with breaking the nation’s most important glass ceiling. “And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all of our sons and daughters can take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States,” she said.
Although without mentioning him by name, Obama jabbed at Donald Trump and his personality. “The issues a president faces are not black and white, and cannot be boiled down into 140 characters,” she said. “Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military at your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have a thin skin or the tendency to lash out.”
She painted a stark contrast with the Democratic nominee. “Hillary Clinton has never quit anything in her life. She never buckles under pressure. She never takes the easy way out.”
Finally, she drew on Trump’s own language to deliver a powerful punchline: “Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again, because this, right now, is the greatest country on Earth.”