First lady Michelle Obama pledged Monday that she and President Barack Obama will do what’s best for the country and “be there” however needed to help Donald Trump succeed as America’s next president.
“As I’ve said time and time again, words matter,” the first lady told Oprah Winfrey in an interview broadcast Monday. “And they matter most to our kids. And the words that we say moving forward — all of us — it matters, which is one of the reasons why Barack and I are so supportive of this transition.”
Michelle Obama emerged as Hillary Clinton’s most potent surrogate on the campaign trail, ripping the Republican nominee in a series of passionate, forceful speeches without ever mentioning him by name. President Obama, too, assailed Trump as he stumped across the country for his former secretary of state, but he has become a de facto adviser to his successor since the first family began to put their differences with the Trumps aside for a peaceful transition.
“Because no matter how we felt going into it, it is important for the health of this nation that we support the commander in chief,” she said, still refusing to use Trump’s name. “Wasn’t done when my husband took office, but we’re going high, and this is what’s best for the country. So we are gonna be there for the next president and do whatever we have to do to make sure that he is successful because if he succeeds, we all succeed.”
Obama cast the presidential election as a “painful” endeavor that “was challenging for me as a citizen to watch and experience.”
In a Friday morning excerpt of the first lady’s exit interview, Obama suggested that many Americans no longer have the hope that her husband campaigned on in 2008 as Trump transitions to the White House, telling Winfrey, “Now, we’re feeling what not having hope feels like.”
In a separate clip that aired Monday morning, Obama took a softer tone, remarking that she followed Laura Bush’s lead and told Melania Trump when the two met privately at the White House, “You really don’t know what you don’t know until you’re here, so the door’s open.”
“I’m not new in this ‘going high’ thing,” she added. “I’m modeling what was done for me by the Bushes.”
Indeed, Obama popularized the phrase, “When they go low, we go high” on the stump, where supporters would shout the latter half of the phrase in unison and individuals would shout for her to run for office one day.
But she definitively ruled out a future White House bid — or a run for any political office — Monday evening.
“No, no, no, no,” she told Winfrey when asked whether she would ever run for office. “Look, that’s one thing I don’t do. I don’t make stuff up. I’m not coy. I haven’t proven that. I’m pretty direct.”
“If I were interested in it, I’d say it. I don’t believe in playing games, you know,” she continued. “And it’s not something that you cavalierly just sort of ask a family to do again, but let me just tell America: This is hard. It’s a hard job. I said it on the campaign trail. It requires a lot of sacrifice. It is a weighty thing.”‘