Michelle Obama opened up with ABC News at the Essence Fest about the upcoming 2020 election, and while the former first lady withheld her opinion on who she and former President Barack Obama would support, she wasn’t afraid to throw a little shade at the current occupant of the White House.
“The leader of the free world, with a tweet, can start a war, can crush an economy, can change the future of our children,” she said. “It is a real job which requires deep seriousness and focus.”
Obama seems concerned that Donald Trump — and perhaps some of the 2020 candidates — aren’t treating the role with the attention it deserves. She added that she worries her husband made being president look like a simple job that most people can tackle.
“I fear that sometimes people might have thought that Barack made it look easy, so it must be easy, It’s kind of like, I guess, if the black guy can do it, anybody can do it. And that’s not true,” she said.
Host Gayle King tried to tease out an answer from Obama about who she and her husband would be supporting in the 2020 run-off. The former first lady avoided answering the question, saying that they planned to support whoever won the primary and that they planned to let the process play out before making a decision, particularly this early in the process.
“It is early; it’s like trying to figure out who’s winning the World Series on the first seven games. I mean that’s where we are right now, it is so early,” she said.
Presidential hopeful Joe Biden seems to be fine with his former boss withholding his support at this point. In fact, Biden says that he asked the president not to endorse him at this point because he didn’t want it to look like Obama was “putting his thumb on the scale.”
It’s not the first time the former first lady has spoken out about the president, though she has kept her opinion about Trump largely to herself.
However, in her autobiography, Becoming, she wrote about the birther conspiracy that questioned whether her husband was a U.S. citizen. Trump famously championed the movement, which many, including Obama, saw as based in racism.
In the book, she says that Trump’s language could have motivated an attacker to come for her or her family, and may have resulted in violence against her children. For that, she would “never forgive him.”