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First Lady blasts Trump for 'bragging about sexually assaulting women'

By DAN TUOHY
New Hampshire Union Leader

October 13. 2016 2:57PM
First Lady Michelle Obama, campaigning at SNHU for Hillary Clinton on Thursday. (Thomas Roy / UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — First lady Michelle Obama, in an emotional speech Thursday, blasted Donald Trump for making lewd comments about women and for "actually bragging about sexually assaulting women."

"I can't stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted," she said while campaigning for Democrat Hillary Clinton at Southern New Hampshire University.

Obama delivered a long rebuke during her remarks, including criticizing the GOP presidential nominee for saying his vulgar comments in a 2005 audiotape amounted to "locker room talk."

"This wasn't just ‘locker room' banter," she said. "This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior and actually bragging about kissing and groping women, using language so obscene that many of us who worried about our children hearing it wouldn't turn on the TV."

Obama said Trump's dismissal of it as "locker room" talk was "an insult to decent men everywhere."

"It's one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life," she said. "I have to tell you that I listen to all of this and I feel it so personally and I'm sure that many of you do, too, particularly the women."

The audiotape has prompted Trump to counterattack Clinton. He has accused her of enabling and covering up former President Bill Clinton's affairs, and he's alleged that the former President was a one-time rapist of one of his past accusers.

Trump, who has apologized, told the debate moderator Sunday night that he had not engaged in any of the behavior he boasted about in the 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape, which was first aired last week.

In New Hampshire, the first lady cited the International Day of the Girl, which was celebrated Tuesday at the White House, as a profound contrast. She called this "a tough week in a tough election."

She spoke about the "sick, sinking feeling" a woman gets walking down the street when a man yells out vulgar words about her body.

"It's that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them or forced himself on them and they said, ‘No,' but he didn't listen, something that we know happens on college campuses and countless other places every single day," she said.

The first lady received some of the loudest cheers when she talked about women voters making a difference with the chance to elect the first woman President.

Catherine Johnson, an undeclared voter from Hanover, said seeing Michelle Obama speak was "icing on the cake" for this election year.

She traveled New Hampshire during the primary season and heard from all the major presidential hopefuls. She ultimately decided to vote for N.J. Gov. Chris Christie in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary.

Johnson said she could not bring herself to support Trump as the GOP nominee, and now canvasses for Clinton.

"At the end of the day," she said, "I want to feel like I've done everything to elect her and make sure that Trump doesn't get anywhere near the White House."

dtuohy@unionleader.com


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