Wednesday 7 December 2016

Michelle Obama says tycoon's lewd remarks 'frightening and hurtful'

David Lawler in Washington

Published 15/10/2016 | 02:30

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama condemned Donald Trump's past comments about forcing himself on women on Thursday, becoming emotional as she said of his attitude toward women: "it's cruel, it's frightening, and the truth is it hurts".

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Ms Obama said she felt the comments "personally", and that they evoked the experiences of women everywhere who had been objectified or even sexually assaulted.

"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," she said. "Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares just a little too long, makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin."

She continued: "It's that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them or forced himself on them and they've said no but he didn't listen."

Ms Obama said she had decided to speak about sexual assault rather than give her planned campaign speech for Hillary Clinton because she was unable to stop thinking about the 2005 'Access Hollywood' tape in which Mr Trump described groping and kissing women without their consent.

"It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted," she said, lamenting the fact that many would treat it as "just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season" without realising the effect the words had on women.

In the hours before Ms Obama took the stage in New Hampshire, four women came forward with allegations that Mr Trump had inappropriately touched them.

Natasha Stoynoff, a former 'People Magazine' reporter, alleged that Mr Trump pushed her up against a wall and forcibly kissed her while she was at his Mar a Lago resort in Florida to do a story about the businessman's marriage to his wife Melania.

Jessica Leeds claimed to the 'New York Times' she was seated next to Mr Trump on an airplane when he lifted the armrest and began to grope her "like an octopus".

Rachel Crooks said she introduced herself to Mr Trump while working as a receptionist in Trump Tower, and claimed he kissed her "directly on the mouth".

Finally, Mindy McGillavray claimed that Mr Trump groped her from behind during at event at Mar a Lago.

Mr Trump vehemently denied the accusations during an event in Florida on Thursday.

"These claims are all fabricated, they're pure fiction and they are outright lies," he said.

He apologised to anyone offended by his 2005 comments, but has since dismissed them as "locker-room talk".

Ms Obama said she found that cavalier attitude particularly disturbing.

"This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behaviour," she said. "And to make matters worse, it now seems clear that this isn't an isolated incident.

"It's one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life and I have to tell you that I listen to all of this and I feel it so personally. And I'm sure that many of you do too, particularly the women."

Irish Independent

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