Two weeks ago, the White House set a trap for Donald Trump, warning him not to attack the incredibly popular First Lady of the United States as she criticized his misogynistic remarks in various speeches on behalf of the Clinton campaign. Surprisingly, Trump hasn’t taken the bait, but he has been working on a weird jab involving Michelle Obama that might be devastating to Hillary Clinton — if Clinton were still in junior high.
Basically, he’s been suggesting that Obama doesn’t like Clinton as much as she says she does, based on a vague remark she made eight years ago.
Trump tried a version of the attack during the second debate. “I’ve gotten to see the commercials that they did on you,” Trump said. “And I’ve gotten to see some of the most vicious commercials I’ve ever seen of Michelle Obama talking about you, Hillary.”
As PolitiFact explains, there is no Obama commercial in which Michelle attacks Clinton. Trump was probably referring to an ad released by a pro-Trump super-pac.
The footage of Michelle Obama is from a campaign event in Chicago on August 12, 2007. A Chicago Sun-Times reporter noted at the time that the remark “could be interpreted as a swipe at the Clintons.” But Obama used the same line later that month and, in context, she was discussing raising a family on the campaign trail:
One of the most important things that we need to know about the next president of the United States is, is he somebody that shares our values? Is he somebody that respects family? Is (he) a good and decent person? 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.
Even if the remark was intended as a dig at the Clintons, it was uttered in the midst of a tough primary battle, and the two families moved past their animosity (publicly, at least) when Clinton endorsed Obama and served in his administration. But Trump cited the line again in a speech last week, in which he said we have a bunch of “losers” and “babies” running the country:
“We have a president, all he wants to do is campaign. His wife, all she wants to do is campaign,” Trump said. “And I see how much his wife likes Hillary. But wasn’t she [Michelle Obama] 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?’”
Trump wondered why people have stopped talking about the 2007 quote. “Where is that? I don’t hear that. I don’t hear that. She’s the one that started that. I said, ‘We can’t say that, it’s too vicious.’ Can you believe it? I said that,” he said. “They said, well, Michelle Obama said it. I said she did? Now she said that, but we don’t hear about that.”
He highlighted the remark again with a tweet on Sunday morning. (CNN had aired the 2007 footage minutes earlier, but it’s probably a coincidence since Trump doesn’t watch the “Clinton News Network” anymore.)
Obama and Clinton are set to campaign together for the first time on Thursday, so it appears that despite Trump’s best efforts, Hillary has forgiven Michelle for possibly making a sassy remark about her marriage eight years ago.