Michelle Obama denounced Donald Trump in an stirring speech while campaigning for Hillary Clinton in North Carolina on Thursday.
Speaking at Southern New Hampshire University, the first lady told the crowd that it would be "dishonest" for her to come out and do her normal campaign speech and ignore the firestorm surrounding the GOP presidential candidate and his comments about women.
"In this election, we have a candidate for president of the United States who over the course of his lifetime and over the course of this campaign has said things about women that are so shocking, so demeaning," she said while speaking in Manchester. "Last week we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women. I can't believe I'm saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women."
She continued, "I have to tell you that I can't stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted."
Obama, who got emotional several times throughout her speech, then turned her hard-hitting words to Trump's "locker room" banter excuse.
"This was not just a lewd conversation," 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 are worried about our children hearing it when they turn on the TV."
She continued, "And to make matters worse, it now seems very clear that this isn't an isolated incident. It's a countless example of how he has treated women his whole life."
In the wake of Trump's resurfaced 2005 conversation with then-Access Hollywood host Billy Bush - in which he bragged about being able to kiss, grope and do "anything" to women without their consent because he's famous - multiple women have come forward with claims that they were allegedly assaulted by Trump.
On Wednesday, the New York Times published an article in which two women, Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks, claim they were touched and kissed without their consent by the GOP candidate. The Palm Beach Post published an interview with a local woman named Mindy McGillivray, who claimed Trump groped her in 2003 after a concert at the Mar-a-Lago hotel.
Trump's campaign denied both stories and sent the Times a legal letter demanding a retraction and threatening to sue. The Times declined to remove the story on Thursday and welcomed the opportunity to set him straight in court, saying in their response letter, "We did what the law allows: We published newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern."
Also on Wednesday, CBS News unearthed Entertainment Tonight footage from 1992 of Trump saying about a young girl, "I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?" A former People reporter penned a first-person essay about her alleged assault, saying she found herself with Trump "pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat" while assigned to interview the then-reality star in the early 2000s.
"The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman? It is cruel, it's frightening and the truth is, it hurts," said an emotional Obama on Thursday. Speaking of women who struggle with rising above, she said, "Maybe we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us as women look weak. … Maybe we've grown accustomed to swallowing these emotions and staying quiet because we've seen that people often won't take our word over his."
She concluded: "Now is the time for us to stand up and say, 'Enough is enough.'"
Clinton - who quoted Obama's motto, "When they go low, you go high," during the contentious second presidential debate - took to Twitter Thursday afternoon to react to her surrogate's speech.
"I'm in awe. Thanks for putting into words what's in so many of our hearts," wrote the Democratic nominee.
.@FLOTUS, I'm in awe. Thanks for putting into words what's in so many of our hearts. -H
- Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 13, 2016
While Obama was speaking, Trump held his own rally in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday where he described Wednesday's accusations as "totally and absolutely ." He also said he has "substantial evidence" that disputes the allegations, promising to make those public "at an appropriate time, very soon."