Though she never mentioned Trump by name, Obama’s speech largely focused on his shortcomings.
She opened her speech with her “unique perspective” on what it takes to be the country’s commander-in-chief, as someone who has “seen the presidency up close and personal.”
She said that the presidency is “not an apprenticeship” and that the job is for someone with good judgment. “The presidency doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are,” Obama said.
In her 20-minute speech, the first lady quickly honed in on Trump’s recent controversies, like his 3 a.m. tweeting about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, in which he accused her of having a sex tape. The claim turned out to be false.
“We also need someone who is steady and measured, because when making life or death, war or peace decisions, a president can’t just pop off or lash out irrationally,” Obama said. “And I think we can all agree that someone who is roaming around at 3 a.m. tweeting should not have their fingers on the nuclear codes.”
Speaking about Trump’s treatment of Machado and his other comments against women, Obama said, “If a candidate regularly demeans and humiliates women, making cruel and insulting comments about our bodies, criticizing how we look and how we act, well sadly, that’s who that candidate really is.”
The first lady also nodded at the recent revelation in The New York Times that the Republican presidential nominee could have avoided paying any federal income tax for nearly two decades, imploring North Carolinians to vote for someone who would close tax loopholes for the wealthy.
“Not paying taxes for years and years while the rest of us pay our fair share doesn’t make you smarter than the rest of us,” Obama said.
The first lady closed her speech with what she sees as the two candidates’ greatest distinctions: “On November the 8th, you will decide whether we have a president who believes in science and will combat climate change … or not. You will decide whether we will have a president who will honor our proud history as a nation of immigrants, or not. A president who thinks that women deserve the right to make their own choices about our bodies and our health, or not.”
Obama will be speaking again at 3 p.m. ET today in Raleigh.