This election, Obama said during her speech at the Democratic National Convention, “is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives.”
The crowd waved purple signs that simply read “Michelle.”
Obama made clear that this election will determine who will give hope to, or instill fear in, the next generation.
“Every word we utter, every action we take, we know they are watching,” Obama said. “We as parents are their most important role models.”
That responsibility, Obama said, carries into her role as first lady, and her husband’s job as president.
“We know that our words and actions matter not just to our girls, but to children across this country,” she said.
Taking a jab at Trump and others who have questioned the president’s citizenship and his faith, Obama repeated the advice she and her husband have shared with their children.
“When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level,” she said. “No, our motto is: ‘When they go low, we go high.’”
In order to illustrate the point that the election should transcend the party divisions currently stirring Democrats, Obama recalled a simple but telling moment her husband shared with a little boy.
“Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband with eyes wide, and he wondered, ‘Is my hair like yours?’” Obama said. “Make no mistake about it, this November when we go to the polls, that is what we are deciding. Not Democrat or Republican. Not left or right.”
And the only person she trusts with the future of her daughters and other American children is Hillary Clinton.
“I want a president who will teach our children that everyone in this country matters,” she said. “I want a president with a record of public service, someone whose life work shows our children that we don’t seek fame and fortune for ourselves.”
A president “can’t have a thin skin or a tendency to lash out,” she said. “You need to be steady and measured and well informed.”
In a nod to disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporters, Obama recalled how Clinton swallowed her pride and joined the Obama administration after losing in 2008.
“Hillary knows this is so much bigger than her own desires and disappointments,” Obama said, adding that she decided to come back to put “cracks in the highest and hardest glass ceiling” and take the country along.
It’s that story of America, Obama said, that brought her to Philadelphia to deliver her speech. It’s the story of generations who lived their lives in the U.S. feeling the “lash of bondage ... the sting of segregation,” but who kept “striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.
“And I watch my daughters, two beautiful and intelligent black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn,” she added.
Now, because of Clinton, Obama said her daughters will “take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.”