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Michelle Obama Took Down Donald Trump Without Ever Saying His Name

“When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don't stoop to that level”

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In a deft show of rhetorical power, Michelle Obama delivered a show-stopping speech at the Democratic National Convention Monday night, simultaneously bridging past distance between herself and Hillary Clinton and taking down Donald Trump—without mentioning his name.

Obama and Clinton were erstwhile adversaries, with the former repeatedly going on the defense when the latter went after her husband during 2008’s sometimes-nasty primary season. You wouldn’t have known it last night, with a unifying speech that clearly hit the right notes with a sea of delegates waving purple Michelle signs.

“When crisis hits, we don’t turn against each other. No, we listen to each other, we lean on each other, because we are always stronger together,” she said. “I am here tonight because I know that that is the kind of president Hillary Clinton will be.”

Obama was distancing Clinton from the specter of Donald Trump, whose gloom-and-doom speech at the Republican National Convention last week gave the presidential contest a dark, end-of-days taint. Yet Obama spent her entire time on the stage referring to him in only the most oblique fashion.

This comes at a moment when Clinton is seeing some pretty stark feedback from the pollsters. In a couple sets of particularly brutal polling results, she was pummeled for everything from not seeming trustworthy to not, well, being Bernie Sanders. Monday also saw a vociferous assault from pro-Sanders protesters at the DNC.

But in Obama’s soaring speech, where she managed to invoke both her own daughters’ origin story and the story of a kinder, more noble America, pessimism held no purchase.

“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again,” she said. “This right now, is the greatest country on Earth.”

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