First Lady Michelle Obama captivated the crowd on night one of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, delivering a deeply personal speech in support of her party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton.
The first night of the Democratic National Convention was fraught with testiness—a roar of boos swelled in the arena of Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center shortly after the opening gavel was struck. Just outside, gatherers chanted well into the night protesting in favor of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
But for 15 minutes, the rifts that had been exposed throughout the day appeared to have mended. Everyone in the crowd, despite their differences, was enthralled by the First Lady.
At one point, Obama noted that it had been eight years since she took the stage at the Democratic convention to persuade the crowd that her husband was the right candidate to lead the American people. Words from that speech were cribbed by Melania Trump in her speech at the Republican convention this year.
On Monday, Obama said that in the time since the Obamas moved into the White House, her biggest concern was and continues to be the welfare of her daughters and all of America’s children. How well they managed the experience, she said, would affect them forever.
“With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us,” she said, noting that while the Obamas have lived in the White House she’s had to explain why her husband’s faith and citizenship were being questioned and other “hateful language” from public officials. It went without mentioning that many of those comments came from the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, whose name went unmentioned in her speech.
“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves,” she said. “And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”
In fact, as much as the speech was soundly about Clinton’s work as a children’s rights advocate, Senator, and Secretary of State, it was a fierce rebuke of everything Democrats say Donald Trump represents. It included subtle jabs at “thin-skinned” leaders with tendencies to “lash out.”
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that America isn’t great,” Obama said, citing Trump’s campaign slogan. “That somehow we need to make it great again because this right now is the greatest country on earth.”
The speech was short, but Michelle Obama’s message was clear. The leader she believes will take the country down the right path is undoubtedly Hillary Clinton. And the boost in enthusiasm the convention saw when Obama entered and exited Monday’s stage could prove beneficial on the campaign trail.
“This November when we go to the polls, that is what we are deciding … who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives,” Obama said. “There is only one person who I trust with that responsibility.”