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“I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women. And I have to tell you that I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted,” said Obama.
The First Lady’s remarks at a New Hampshire rally came nearly a week after a 2005 tape of Trump describing how’d he sexually assault a woman was made public. The ensuing backlash has led to many Republicans dropping their endorsements of Trump (though many have gone back on their word since) and a number of women coming forward to describe how Trump assaulted them or made unwanted sexual advances toward them.
In Sunday’s debate and elsewhere, Trump has defended his comments from 2005 as “locker room talk.”
“This was not just a lewd conversation. This wasn’t locker room banter,” Obama said in her speech. “This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior. And actually bragging about kissing and groping women in language so obscene that many of us were worried about our children hearing it when we turn on the TV.”
Obama said that the 2016 presidential election was notable due to its “hurtful, hateful language about women.”
“Language that has been painful for so many of us—not just as women—but as parents trying to protect our children and raise them to be caring, respectful adults,” she said. “And as citizens who think our nation’s leaders should meet basic standards of human decency.”
In the days following Trump’s “locker room talk” excuse, thousands of sexual assault survivors have been speaking out about thier own horrific experiences, many saying that his comments have brought back painful memories.
“Too many of us are treating this as just another day’s headline,” said Obama. “As if our outrage is overblown or unwarranted. As if this is normal. Just politics as usual. But New Hampshire, be clear. This is not normal.
“I know this is is a campaign, but this is not about politics,” she continued. “It’s about basic human decency. And we simply cannot endure this or expose or children to us for another longer. Not for another minute, let alone for another four years.”
You can watch Obama’s full address below.
Amrita Khalid is a technology and politics reporter who specializes in breaking down complex issues into practical, useful terms. A former contributor to CQ, a Congressional news and analysis site, she's currently a master's candidate in international relations at the University of Leeds.