Michelle Obama slammed Eric H. Holder Jr.’s alteration of her famous “when they go low, we go high” slogan, saying the former attorney general’s “kick them” comment stokes fear and is “not a proper motivator” for change.
Appearing Thursday on the “Today” show, the former first lady said she stands by the phrase she first delivered at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
“Fear is not a proper motivator. Hope wins out,” Mrs. Obama said. “And if you think about how you want your kids to be raised, how you want to think about life and their opportunities. Do you want them afraid of your neighbors? Do you want them angry, do you want them vengeful? We think of the values that we try to promote to our children.”
Mrs. Obama made the comment in response to a question by NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie about the angry rhetoric coming from prominent Democrats, specifically from Mr. Holder and former 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Holder on Wednesday told a Democratic crowd that “Michelle [Obama] always says ‘When they go low, we go high.’ No. No. When they go low, we kick them. That’s what this new Democratic Party is about.”
Mrs. Clinton said civility couldn’t and shouldn’t return to politics until the Democrats reclaimed their power.
Mrs. Obama said those comments are doing a disservice to the young people who look up to them.
“What are the things you’re telling your girls? Which motto do you want them to live by?” she asked. “And I have to think about that as a mother, as someone who’s a role model to young girls. We want them to grow up with promise and hope, and we can’t model something different if we want them to be better than that.”
Mr. Holder responded to the “fake outrage” over his comments in a tweet Thursday afternoon after some conservatives accused him of promoting violence.
“Ok, stop the fake outrage. I’m obviously not advocating violence. (In fact, when I was AG violent crime in the US was historically low),” he wrote. “I’m saying Republicans are undermining our democracy and Democrats need to be tough, proud and stand up for the values we believe in - the end.”