WASHINGTON –First lady Michelle Obama stumped with Hillary Clinton on Thursday, shifting attention away from damaging Wikileaks emails about the Clinton Foundation and infighting in the Clinton world.
Those stolen emails about Bill Clinton’s paydays and donations to the foundation are not good for Clinton – and could have been more damaging if they had surfaced earlier – and if Donald Trump had the discipline to use them effectively against her.
Drowning out the newest Wikileaks for Clinton is her best and most powerful advocate, Michelle Obama.
Never before was a current first lady on a stage with a former first lady running for president, who would be, if elected, the first female in the Oval Office. That’s a lot of history.
Obama’s star power is such that Clinton – who usually is the prime speaker at a campaign rally – introduced Obama to the crowd at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
North Carolina is one of the key battleground states. President Barack Obama narrowly won the Tar Heel state in 2008, beating John McCain. In 2012, Mitt Romney defeated the president.
Mrs. Obama was in North Carolina as early voting is starting with Clinton wanting to lock in her vote. The more ballots in, the less damage Wikileak emails can do with undecided voters.
Clinton was lavish in her praise of Obama, promising, if she is elected president, to take “good care” of the first lady’s signature White House vegetable garden and joking about Obama’s “mean round” in “Carpool Karaoke.”
“And let’s be real. As our first African-American first lady, she’s faced pressures I never did. And she’s handled them with pure grace,” Clinton said.
Mrs. Obama delivered another powerful speech for Clinton. The years have long healed hard feelings from the 2008 primary between the Obamas and the Clintons.
President Barack Obama and Clinton patched things up pretty fast – she was his first term secretary of state.
The Obamas’ know that if Donald Trump is president, their legacy is threatened.
In North Carolina, Mrs. Obama added a new element, that Trump, with all his assertions that the election is rigged – with no evidence – is trying to suppress the vote.
“Here’s where I want to get real: If Hillary doesn’t win this election, that will be on us. It will be because we did not stand with her. It will be because we did not vote for her. And that is exactly what her opponent is hoping will happen. That’s the strategy -– to make this election so dirty and ugly that we don’t want any part of it.
“So when you hear folks talking about a global conspiracy and saying that this election is ‘rigged,’ understand that they are trying to get you to stay home. They are trying to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter, that the outcome has already been determined and you shouldn’t even bother to make your voice heard. They are trying to take away your hope,” Obama said.
She turned to Trump’s refusal to say he will accept the outcome of the election if he is defeated.
“And just for the record, in this country, the United States of America, the voters decide our elections. They’ve always decided. Voters decide who wins and who loses. Period. End of story.
“And right now, thankfully, folks are coming out in droves to vote early. It’s amazing to see. We are making our voices heard all across this country. Because when they go low,” Obama said, not needing to finish the sentence.
The audience said as one, “We go high!”
The first lady introduced the “when they go low, we go high” line at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and it’s become an anthem of the 2016 campaign – used by Clinton in her stump speech.
That Obama’s aphorism is aspirational and speaks to our better selves is a stark contrast to Trump. Clinton is catching a daily bad break with the steam of stolen emails from her campaign chair, John Podesta. Obama’s voice – and message – can help drown them out.