Former first lady Michelle Obama delivered an impassioned speech at the first night of the Democratic National Convention, urging Americans who may have skipped the 2016 election to support Joe Biden in November. In her pre-recorded address, she spoke frankly about the challenges she sees facing the country, and the steep responsibilities a president faces.
“I am one of the handful of people living today that have seen first-hand the immense weight and awesome power of the presidency,” Obama said. “You simply cannot fake your way through this job.”
Obama, who wore a necklace spelling out “V-O-T-E,” said the decision by many not to vote in 2016 “sent someone to the Oval Office who lost the national popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.”
The former first lady said the Trump presidency has undermined the achievements of her husband’s tenure, and she also accused Mr. Trump of showing a lack of empathy.
“Here at home, as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and a never-ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered. Stating the simple fact that a Black life matters is still met with derision from the nation’s highest office,” Obama said. “Sadly, this is the America that’s on display for the next generation.”
Obama also referenced the catchphrase she coined in her speech at the 2016 Democratic convention, when she said, “When they go low, we go high.
“Over the past four years, a lot of people have asked me, ‘When others are going so low, does going high still really work?'” Obama said. “My answer: going high is the only thing that works.”
Without naming the president, Obama offered her assessment that Mr. Trump “cannot meet this moment.”
“He is clearly in over his head. It is what it is,” she said, echoing Mr. Trump’s own remark in an Axios interview a few weeks ago, when challenged about the fact that 1,000 Americans were dying each day as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don’t make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it,” Obama said.
She also spoke about her relationship with Biden, and touched on his resilience in the face of personal tragedy: “His life is a testament to getting back up.”
“I know Joe. He is a profoundly decent man guided by faith,” Obama said. “He was a terrific vice president. He knows what it takes to rescue an economy, beat back a pandemic and lead our country.”
She urged people to be enthusiastic about participating in the upcoming election and turn out in levels that sent her husband to the White House in 2008 and 2012.
“We have got to grab our comfortable shoes, put on our masks, pack a brown bag dinner and maybe breakfast too, because we’ve got to be willing to stand in line all night if we have to,” Obama said. “It is up to us to add our voices and our vote to the chorus of history.”
Obama did not reference Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, as her speech was recorded before Harris was announced.
Obama finished her speech by reiterating the importance of empathy and making a good impression for the country’s children.
“We want to be able to look our children in the eye after this election,” she said. “We have got to reassert our place in American history. And we have got to do everything we can to elect my friend, Joe Biden, as the next president of the United States.”