On Monday, Aug. 17, viewers tuned into the first night night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention which — unsurprisingly — looked quite a bit different from years past. While conventions are usually jam-packed with politicians, supporters, and extra events, the 2020 convention was mostly virtual due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The former first lady was one of the many speakers who spoke by video link at the Milwaukee event, and she did not hold back when criticizing President Donald Trump for what she labeled his personal shortcomings. In addition to calling him the "wrong president" for the country, Michelle Obama's 2020 DNC speech went all in on what she views as one of his major character flaws.
While the former first lady has generally refrained from speaking out against Trump directly in the past, she took on a very different tone while delivering a powerful pre-recorded keynote address at the kickoff event. Obama's scathing speech said the president's "lack of empathy" when dealing with a population struggling with the economic and social ramifications of a pandemic was "not just disappointing, [but] downright infuriating."
"Whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division, and a total and utter lack of empathy," she told viewers.
In addition to her critique of Trump's personality flaws, the Becoming author laid into the president's foreign policy and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic with what she called the "cold hard truth."
"So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can," she told viewers. "Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. 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." She concluded her critique by quoting Trump's line "It is what it is," which he said during a July Axios interview in response to the number of coronavirus deaths in the United States.
On Tuesday, Aug. 18, President Trump took to Twitter to hit back at Obama's speech, sarcastically thanking her for her "kind words."
"Somebody please explain to @MichelleObama that Donald J. Trump would not be here, in the beautiful White House, if it weren’t for the job done by your husband, Barack Obama. Biden was merely an afterthought, a good reason for that very late & unenthusiastic endorsement," Trump wrote in a separate tweet.
Obama, who's released her bestselling memoir Becoming and a Spotify podcast in her years since leaving the White House, was a top pick for the keynote address due to her enduring popularity. She topped Gallup's Most Admired Woman list in 2018 and in 2019, beating out both former secretary of state and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and first lady Melania Trump. Meanwhile, President Trump trailed behind former President Barack Obama in 2018 and tied with him in 2019. Jennifer Palmieri, an adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, called naming Obama the first-night headliner a "no-brainer," according to The New York Times. "She’s the most admired woman in America, and the only political figure with a significant reach beyond politics," Palmieri said. Obama's appeal has even become something of a political meme, as fans plead with the former FLOTUS to run for office on her own. (Sorry, everyone. It's not happening.)
Obama has yet to respond to President Trump's latest tweets, but it wouldn't be surprising if voters see and hear more of her on the campaign trail ahead of the November election.