'So don't let anyone ever tell you this country isn't great'

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Credit: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Michelle Obama energized the crowd at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, as well as on social media, with a powerful speech that took on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump without ever mentioning his name.

After walking on the stage to Sara Bareilles’ “Brave,” the First Lady began her speech by recalling what she felt when daughters Sasha and Malia, now 15 and 18, went to their first day of school after the election in 2008.

“At that moment, I realized our time in the White House would form the foundation for who they would become. And how well we managed this experience could truly make or break them. That is what Barack and I think about everyday as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of life in the spotlight,” Obama said, before hitting back at Trump for his past comments on Barack Obama’s citizenship, as well as his inflammatory rhetoric throughout the presidential campaign.

“We urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith,” she said. “How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully you don’t stoop to their level. Our motto is when they go low, we go high.”

Continued Obama, “With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. […] We know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls, but the children across this country, kids who tell us I saw you on TV, I wrote a report on you for school.”

The 52-year-old then endorsed Hillary Clinton for president with a plea that the election was about more than partisanship — but the future. “This November when we go to the polls that is what we’re deciding, not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. No, in this election and every election is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives. And I am here tonight because in this election there is only one person who I trust with that responsibility, only one person who I believe is truly qualified to be president of the United States, and that is our friend Hillary Clinton.”

During her speech, Obama also knocked Trump’s propensity to tweet his feelings, saying Americans needed a president “who knows this job and takes it seriously. Someone who understands the issues are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters. […] When you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military at your command, you can’t make snap decisions; you can’t be thin-skinned.”

Closing her speech, Obama reiterated that Clinton was the best choice for the children of America, and that she had proved through perseverance anything was possible. Hillary Clinton, Obama said, “has the guts and the grace to keep coming back and putting those cracks in that highest and hardest glass ceiling until she finally breaks through, lifting all of us along with her.” She added, “That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight. The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what need 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, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.

“And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters, and all our sons and daughters, now take for granted that a woman can be President of the United States,” Obama continued before slamming Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great.”

“So don’t let anyone ever tell you this country isn’t great. That somehow we need to make it great again. This right now is the greatest country on Earth,” she said. “And as my daughters prepare to set out into the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth. A leader who is worthy of my girls’ promise, and all our kids’ promise. A leader who will be guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children. So in this election, we cannot sit back and hope that everything works out for the best. We cannot afford to be tired or frustrated or cynical. No, hear me. Between now and November, we need to do what we did eight years ago and four years ago. We need to knock on every door, we need to get out every vote, we need to pour every last ounce of our passion and our strength and our love for this country into electing Hillary Clinton as president of the United States of America!”

Watch her full remarks below.

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