Former first lady Michelle Obama launched a series of blistering attacks against President Trump on Tuesday, describing his policies as “racist” and accusing him endangering American lives with his behavior during the pandemic.
Obama, who rarely gets involved in day-to-day political fights, said in a 24-minute video meant as a “closing argument” for voters to turn out for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden that the U.S. has descended into “chaos” because the “president isn’t up to the job.”
Without mentioning Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis, Obama accused the president of seeking to “gaslight the American people by acting like this pandemic is not a real threat.”
The former first lady also accused Trump of “stoking fears about Black and brown Americans” with his “racist” rhetoric.
Obama asked white Americans for “empathy,” saying that as a Black woman she is worried that institutional racism will “destroy this nation” if it’s not addressed.
And Obama praised Biden, who has built a big lead in the polls over Trump with less than one month to go before Election Day, as the “leader who has the character and the experience to put an end to this chaos,” calling him a “good man who understands the struggles of everyday folks.”
“Search your hearts, and your conscience, and then vote for Joe Biden like your lives depend on it,” she said.
Obama has largely kept a low profile this campaign season, focusing instead on her voter registration group When We All Vote. She has talked about her distaste for politics and even mentions in this video how “it has never been my thing.”
But she is one of the most popular women in America, and her approval rating is higher than her husband’s, former President Obama.
Michelle Obama opens the video by hammering “this president’s failure to take this pandemic seriously.”
The former first lady said Trump has downplayed the importance of wearing masks and social distancing and that he was “knowingly exposing his own supporters to a dangerous virus” by insisting on holding “massive” campaign rallies throughout the pandemic.
Trump was released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday following three days of treatment for the coronavirus. He removed his mask upon returning to the White House and conducted a photo-op with no mask from the White House balcony.
“Seven months later, he still doesn’t have a plan for this virus,” Michelle Obama said. “Seven months later, he still won’t wear a mask consistently and encourage others to do the same — even when those simple actions could save countless lives. Instead, he continues to gaslight the American people by acting like this pandemic is not a real threat.”
On race, she said Trump is guilty of “whipping up violence and intimidation” against people of color participating in racial justice demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd.
She said that Black people for too long have had to live with the reality that too many people in this country “only see us as a threat to be restrained.”
“Racism, fear, division — these are powerful weapons and they can destroy this nation if we don’t deal with them head on,” she said.
The former first lady also made a positive case for Biden, saying he never grew “cynical” despite the personal tragedies he faced in losing his wife and daughter to a car accident and later his son to brain cancer.
She said that in contrast, Trump “has devoted his life to enriching himself, his family, and other wealthy people.”
“He boasts about gains in the stock market, but when you look at the lives of regular folks, whether it’s creating blue-collar jobs … making health care more affordable … protecting the environment … keeping our families safe from gun violence — let alone the coronavirus — there’s nothing much to brag about,” Michelle Obama said.
“Joe Biden has lived his life guided by values and principles that mirror ones that most Americans can recognize. I know Joe … he’s a good man who understands the struggles of everyday folks.”