Michelle Obama has released a blistering attack against President Donald Trump in her “closing argument” ahead of the presidential election, and it included accusing the president of promoting “racist” policies.
In a 26-minute video, Mrs Obama, who has largely stayed away from political attack, urged voters to pick Joe Biden over the president because the United States has descended into “chaos” with a president who “isn’t up for the job”.
She mentioned the protests that have spread across the country in the wake of George Floyd – a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody after an officer held him down with a knee to his neck.
“The president and his allies are trying to tap into that frustration and distract from his failures … they are stoking up fears … they are pinning it all on what’s been an overall peaceful demonstration,” Mrs Obama said about the recent protests.
Her attack went on to address Mr Trump’s claims suburban households were at risk because of the recent protests and racial housing policies.
This type of tactic, which she said encouraged fear and division, was labelled as “racist” by Mrs Obama because the president was “stoking fears about black and brown Americans”.
“What the president is doing is, once again, patently false, it’s morally wrong, and yes, it’s racist. But doesn’t mean it won’t work. Because this is a difficult time, a confusing time,” she said.
Mrs Obama then asked white Americans to put themselves in the “shoes” of black and brown Americans who experience systemic racism.
“Put yourselves in our shoes for just a moment,” she said. “Imagine what it feels to wake up every day to uphold the values this country claims to be true … only for those efforts to be scorned, not just by citizens, but by a sitting president.”
“Imagine having suspicion cast on you simply because of the hue of your skin,” she added.
Allowing for fear and division policies and rhetoric to persist in America, Mrs Obama said, would only spread racist behaviour.
“We know what happens next. A racial slur from a passing car … maybe a knee to the neck,” she said.
“Racism, fear, division – these are powerful weapons and they can destroy this nation if we don’t take them on,” Mrs Obama added.
In her opinion, she thought the nation could no longer accept “this level of chaos” under the Trump administration, which was why she implored Americans to vote for Joe Biden for the upcoming election on 3 November.
“I want to ask every single American, no matter what party you regularly vote for, to please take a moment to pause, click off the news, think about how you felt over these last four years, how quickly things have turned, and then think about what these next four years can mean for our country’s future,” she said.
The coronavirus pandemic was also highlighted during Mrs Obama’s “closing argument” against the president.
She accused Mr Trump of being “missing in action” while more than 200,000 Americans died from the novel virus. What was not mentioned was the president’s own Covid-19 diagnosis and three-day hospitalisation.
A source told CBS News that Mrs Obama taped the closing argument before Mr Trump announced his diagnosis.
“Seven months later, he still doesn’t have a plan for this virus. 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,” she said. “Instead, he continues to gaslight the American people by acting like this pandemic is not a real threat.”
Mr Trump was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre on Monday evening and returned to the White House. In a photo-op moment, Mr Trump walked up to a White House balcony and removed his mask for an extended period of time, even though he might still be infected.
“Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can: Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” Mrs Obama said. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”
Mrs Obama added that American had a chance to elect a leader with “character and experience to put an end to this chaos.”
“And that leader is Joe Biden,” she said.