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Michelle Obama Blasts Donald Trump Over Sexual Assault Allegations

Oct 13, 2016
Originally published on October 13, 2016 4:58 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Many people are reacting to the accusations against Trump, including first lady Michelle Obama. She spoke today in Manchester, N.H., and tore into the Republican nominee, calling his words and actions towards women cruel. It was her first campaign appearance since Friday, when the Washington Post published a 2005 video where Trump is heard boasting about groping women. As NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, it was the first lady's most personal campaign speech this election so far.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: Most of the words may have been written beforehand, but for an emotional 25 minutes, first lady Michelle Obama seemed a woman still processing the events of the last few days.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAMPAIGN RALLY)

MICHELLE OBAMA: I can't stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted.

CHANG: She said she couldn't believe she was talking about a candidate for president of United States bragging about sexually assaulting women, but the stories and conversations had gotten so much larger than that one man.

OBAMA: And I feel it so personally. And I'm sure that many of you do, too, particularly the women - the shameful comments about our bodies, the disrespect of our ambitions and intellect, the belief that you can do anything you want to a woman.

CHANG: Mrs. Obama has been on the trail campaigning for Hillary Clinton for only a month now, and this is the most aggressive and most intimate she has ever gotten. In the days since the video surfaced, more women have come forward, accusing Donald Trump of unwanted kissing and groping. Trump has denied the allegations, saying they're invented by horrible liars. Today, the first lady said enough is enough.

OBAMA: This is not normal. This is not politics as usual.

(APPLAUSE)

CHANG: Michelle Obama pleaded for voters to not sweep this under the rug as just another disturbing footnote, to not grow numb.

OBAMA: 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.

CHANG: She said no child should ever think this is normal. And as for Trump's defense that his way of discussing women amounted to mere locker room talk, the men in her life, she said, don't talk that way.

OBAMA: Strong men - men who are truly role models - don't need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful.

(APPLAUSE)

CHANG: And then the first lady trained her attention directly on women, telling them their votes in swing states will make the difference if Democrats are to win.

OBAMA: We need you to roll up your sleeves. We need to get to work.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Because remember this - when they go low, we go...

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: ...High.

OBAMA: Yes, we do.

(APPLAUSE)

CHANG: After the speech, Clinton tweeted, I'm in awe. Thanks for putting into words what's in so many of our hearts. Ailsa Chang, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.