Former US First Lady Michelle Obama has launched a scathing attack on Donald Trump, calling him a “racist” president whose strategy of fear-mongering, division and promoting ugly conspiracy theories could “destroy” the United States if he is re-elected.
In a 24-minute video offering closing arguments for Democratic White House nominee Joe Biden four weeks before election day on November 3, Obama described Trump and his Republican allies as unfairly “stoking fears” about Black Americans.
Obama also accused him of “willful mismanagement” of the coronavirus crisis, noting that more Americans have died from COVID-19 than died in the Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Korean wars combined. “Our commander-in-chief,” she said, “sadly, has been missing in action.”
In order to “distract from his breathtaking failures”, Obama said Trump was “morally wrong” for taking actions that intimidate voters and for “lying about how minorities will destroy the suburbs”.
My heart goes out to everyone touched by this virus, from those at the White House, especially the Secret Service and residence staff whose service ought never be taken for granted, to all those names and stories most of us will unfortunately never know. https://t.co/dtEUrcjPAy
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) October 6, 2020
“What the president is doing is once again patently false, it’s morally wrong, and yes, it is racist,” said the 56-year-old wife of Barack Obama, the first Black US president from 2009 to 2016.
But, she warned, such tactics have the potential to work, particularly because Americans lack the time and energy to fact-check everything being spread online or in US media.
“Because this is a difficult time, a confusing time, and when people hear these lies and crazy conspiracies repeated over and over and over again, they don’t know what to think,” she said.
“And the one thing this president is really, really good at is using fear and confusion, and spreading lies to win,” Obama added.
Trump has declared himself the “law and order” president and has repeatedly slammed those protesting against racial injustice as violent “extremists”.
Obama’s video targets a wide range of voters. Along with speaking to “Black and brown folks,” she urged white Americans to imagine “the millions of folks who look like me, and fought and died and toiled as slaves and soldiers and labourers to help build this country.”
Obama’s remarks took a personal turn. As a Black woman, like the majority of those in the country, having “done everything in my power to live a life of dignity and service and honesty, the knowledge that any of my fellow Americans is more afraid of me than the chaos that we are living through right now, well that hurts,” she said.
“It is a heaviness that sits on our hearts.”
Obama also criticised Trump’s belittling of US military personnel as “losers” and his devotion to “enriching himself” and wealthy cronies.
Biden, she said, “offers contrasting values aimed at helping working-class families, healing divisions and protecting the environment.”
Search your hearts and your conscience, and then vote for Joe Biden like your lives depend on it,” she said.