In an unprecedented move — even for Trump — the Republican presidential nominee has taken a jab at First Lady Michelle Obama.
Trump previously spoke highly of the first lady, even praising her speech at the Democratic National Convention. However, last Friday during a rally, Trump called Michelle and President Barack Obama “babies” and “losers.”
“We have a president, all he wants to do is campaign. His wife, all she wants to do is campaign,” he said. “And I see how much his wife likes Hillary. But wasn’t she the one that originally started the statement, ‘If you can’t take care of your home, you can’t take care of the White House or country'”
He repeated the quote on Twitter on Sunday morning.
“If you can’t run your own house you certainly can’t run the White House” A statement made by Mrs. Obama about Crooked Hillary Clinton
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2016
Obama did make the comments in question. At an event in Chicago in 2007, at which time Barack Obama was running against Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee, she said, “One of the things, the important aspects of this race, is role modeling what good families should look like. And my view is that if you can’t run your own house, you certainly can’t run the White House. Can’t do it.”
Later, at an Iowa rally, Obama echoed similar sentiments. But she does not mention Clinton by name:
“So our view was that, if you can’t run your own house, you certainly can’t run the White House. So, so we’ve adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he’s traveling around, I do day trips. That means I get up in the morning, I get the girls ready, I get them off, I go and do trips, I’m home before bedtime. So the girls know that I was gone somewhere, but they don’t care. They just know that I was at home to tuck them in at night, and it keeps them grounded, and, and children, the children in our country have to know that they come first. And our girls do and that’s why we’re doing this. We’re in this race for not just our children, but all of our children.”
Trump said this was a swipe at Clinton’s marriage, and media outlets at the time speculated over this possibility. However, Obama’s spokesperson said, “The only family Mrs. Obama was talking about was the Obama family.”
Barack Obama weighed in as well. “There was no reference beyond her point that we have had an administration that talks a lot about family values but doesn’t follow through,” he said.
Trump first brought up the comments during the second presidential debate, at which time he falsely said to Clinton, “I’ve gotten to see the commercials that they did on you. And I’ve gotten to see some of the most vicious commercials I’ve ever seen of Michelle Obama talking about you, Hillary.”
Politifact’s Louis Jacobson debunked Trump’s statement: “Trump is wrong to imply that Michelle Obama’s criticism came in an ad her husband ran against Hillary Clinton. Instead, it came from an ad made by a pro-Trump super PAC. And the comments from Michelle Obama are somewhat oblique.” Politifact therefore ruled the statement from Trump “false.”
Earlier this month Obama made a speech in which she did not mention Trump by name but addressed Trump’s 2005 comments about sexually assaulting women and the allegations now mounting against him as more women come forward.
“I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for President of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women,” Obama said. “I cannot stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”
The White House warned that an attack on Obama from Trump would be, to say the least, an unwise move.
“I can’t think of a bolder way for Donald Trump to lose even more standing than he already has than by engaging the first lady of the United States,” principal deputy White House press secretary Eric Schultz said following Obama’s speech.
Meanwhile, Clinton’s team could not be happier to have Obama on the campaign trail for them, calling the first lady “an absolute rock star.”
“She has exceeded our expectations in terms of how many events she has been able to do, willing to do,” said Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon. “Her team keeps surprising us with additional availability and we can’t, from our vantage point, we can’t get her out there enough.”