First lady Michelle Obama was unflinching Thursday in her pointed criticism of Republican presidential Donald Trump and a recently surfaced tape that showed the GOP nominee bragging about sexual assault. It "has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted," Obama said in a campaign rally in New Hampshire.
"In this election we have a candidate for president of the United States, who in the course of his lifetime, in the course of this campaign, has said things about women that are so shocking, so demeaning, that I simply will not repeat anything here today," Obama said. "And last week, we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women. And I can't believe that I'm saying that. A candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women. I have to tell you I can't stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted."
"This was not just a lewd conversation. This wasn't locker room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior," Obama said.
She added: "Let's be very clear: Strong men, men who are truly role models, don't need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful."
Obama, of course, also spent a good portion of the speech throwing her support behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, for whom she is campaigning. But the emotional condemnation of Trump — at times Obama appeared to be tearing up — quickly drew praise from political observers.
"Michelle Obama's speech right now on the pain and frightening cruelty of sexual assault is a big moment," wrote Washington Post correspondent Philip Rucker on Twitter.
Jon Favreau, former speechwriter for President Barack Obama and a Clinton supporter, tweeted it was "one of the most important speeches of the entire campaign."
The remarks from Obama came just minutes before Trump was scheduled to speak in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he was expected to discuss the recent reported allegations.