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#CERCAtheVote: Michelle Obama Says Trump Comments Can't Be Ignored


Note: This prompt references content that is more appropriate for older students. It is not intended for all ages.

Last week, a hot-mic video from 2005 in which Donald Trump made vulgar comments about his interactions with women was released to the general public. Since then, fellow Republicans – including prominent politicians such as John McCain – have recanted their endorsements of the GOP nominee.

During the second presidential debate, two days later, reactions to the video drew major focus. Donald Trump's poll numbers have since dipped, but several Republican officials have come back to support him, and others argue that his comments were common male banter taken out of context.

Yet, the most remarkable reaction to the video might be the speech Michelle Obama gave one week later, describing her disgust with the GOP candidate – without mentioning him by name.

Below is a breakdown of the CERCA Michelle Obama used in her speech denouncing Donald Trump. Did she make an effective argument against forgetting or dismissing what he said in the video?

[See a full transcript of the speech here]


The Claim

"This is not something that we can ignore. It's not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season."


The Evidence

"It now seems very clear that this isn't an isolated incident. It's one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life."


The Reasoning

"It is cruel. It's frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It's like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you're walking down the street minding your own business and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin."


"Too many are treating this as just another day's headline, as if our outrage is overblown or unwarranted, as if this is normal, just politics as usual."



The Counterargument

"This was not just a 'lewd conversation.' This wasn't just locker-room banter."


"New Hampshire, be clear: This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable."



The Audience

Michelle Obama spoke to a crowd of Democratic or Democratic-leaning potential voters in New Hampshire, a state typically considered fairly independent of party allegiance.


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Mallory Busch
Mallory Busch

Mallory Busch is ThinkCERCA's Editor of Content Strategy. A graduate of Northwestern University, Mallory came to ThinkCERCA from stops in audience strategy at TIME magazine and news applications development at Chicago Tribune and The Texas Tribune. She holds degrees in Journalism and International Studies, and was a student fellow at Knight Lab in college.