White House Warns Trump Not to Attack First Lady After She Savages Him
Michelle Obama said during an emotionally charged speech at a rally in New Hampshire that Donald Trump's lewd comments about women “have shaken me to my core." She went on to harshly criticize the GOP candidate for his "demeaning" attitude toward women.
“The fact is in this election we have a candidate for president of the United States who over the course of his lifetime and 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 at a campaign rally in New Hampshire. “And last week we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexual assaulting women. I can't believe I'm saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women.”
Her voice breaking at times, Obama warned the crowd that “I’m going to get a little serious here, because I think we can all agree that this has been a rough week in an already rough election.” She said remarks from Trump recorded in 2005, in which he crudely described language how his celebrity allowed him to sexually assault women without consequence, constituted “hurtful, hateful language.”
“Language that has been painful for so many of us,” she continued. “Not just as women, but as parents trying to protect our children and raise them to be caring, respectful adults. And as citizens who think our nation's leaders should meet basic standards of human decency.”
Trump has apologized for the language captured on the tape, on which he can be heard bragging that he would “grab [women] by the pussy,” but also chalked the remarks up to little more than “locker room talk” that did not reflect anything he had actually done. But the first lady said it was much more, describing Trump’s remarks as "a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior."
She said that the GOP nominee’s comments reminded women of being catcalled on the street or leered at by a coworker and of stories from mothers and grandmothers about what it used to be like for women in the workplace.
“I listen to all of this and I feel it so personally, and I'm sure that many of you do, too, particularly the women,” Obama said. “The shameful comments about our bodies, the disrespect of our intelligence. The belief you can do anything to a woman? It is cruel. It's frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts.”
Within hours, the White House issued a statement warning Trump not to attack the first lady.
“I can’t think of a bolder way for Donald Trump to lose even more standing than he already has than by engaging the first lady of the United States,” principal deputy White House press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters during a gaggle aboard Air Force One.
Trump has proven to be a counterpuncher throughout his presidential bid, launching retaliatory attacks at everyone from Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama to Republicans, the media, a Gold Star family and even Heidi Cruz, who's married to Trump’s former GOP rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
But Trump has repeatedly pulled his punches when it comes to the first lady, who has spoken out against him while campaigning for Clinton, including earlier Thursday, when she pilloried him in the wake of his comments about sexually assaulting women with impunity in an “Access Hollywood” tape leaked last week.