FAIRFAX, Va. ― First lady Michelle Obama reminded a packed room of college students of the historic implications of a Hillary Clinton presidency and called her “one of the most qualified people who has ever endeavored to become president.”
During her first campaign trail appearance for Clinton, the first lady made an energetic case at George Mason University for why young voters shouldn’t drag their feet when it comes to voting for Clinton.
“When I hear folks saying they don’t feel inspired in this election, let me tell you, I disagree. I am inspired,” she said. “Right now, we have an opportunity to elect one of the most qualified people who has ever endeavored to become president. Hillary has been a lawyer, a law professor, first lady of Arkansas, first lady of the United States, a U.S. senator, secretary of state, do you hear me?”
She described Clinton as a tough fighter and someone who unquestionably has the judgment and character to be president.
“Hillary is one of the few people on this entire planet, and clearly the only person in this race, who has any idea what this job entails. Who has seen it from every angle, hear me, the staggering stakes, the brutal hours, the overwhelming stresses, and here’s the thing, she still wants to take it on,” Obama said. “No one in our lifetime has ever had as much experience and exposure to the presidency. Not Barack, not Bill, as he would say, nobody.”
“And yes, she happens to be a woman.”
On a day when Donald Trump, again, was raising questions about President Barack Obama’s birthplace, the first lady didn’t mention the GOP nominee by name, but made a clear argument that he is unqualified and unprepared for the presidency.
“When you’re making life-or-death, war-or-peace decisions, a president can’t just pop off,” she said. “Being president isn’t anything like reality TV. It’s not about sending insulting tweets or making fiery speeches. It’s about whether or not the candidate can handle the awesome responsibility of leading this country.”
The appearance was her first since a powerful Democratic National Convention speech, widely praised by Democrats and Republicans, in which she urged Americans to consider what kind of president they want their children to have.
Tamanna Kazi, a freshman at George Mason, skipped class and stood for three or four hours to get a chance to hear Obama speak.
“I just really wanted to see what she has to offer like why the young people should vote for Hillary because after losing Bernie a lot of them kind of were like ‘we don’t know what to do,’” she said.
She added that she thought Obama brought an appeal to the campaign trail that other surrogates couldn’t.
“To me, because Michelle is a colored woman and to Mason kids, we appeal more to someone who is like us and who has that energy,” she said. “Growing up as a colored child, seeing a colored woman being in the White House is like ‘wow.’”
Kathia Maradiaga, a senior studying health administration at George Mason, said that she thought the first lady brought the country together in a unique way.
“I think the first lady, whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, a liberal, she’s done a lot for kids, for veterans, and you just can’t not love her. She brings everybody together, I think,” she said.
In her Friday speech, Obama echoed her words from the DNC and held up the unlikely path she and her husband took to the White House to rebut Trump’s argument that America is in decline.
“We live in a country where a girl like me, from the South Side of Chicago, whose great-great-grandfather was a slave, can go to some of the finest universities on earth. We live in a country where a biracial kid from Hawaii named Barack Obama, the son of a single mother, can become president,” she said. “A country that has always been a beacon for people who have come to our shores and poured their hopes and their prayers and their backbreaking hard work into making our country what it is today.”
“That is what makes America great. Don’t ever forget it.”