Michelle Obama gazed around the East Room of the White House. It was one of her few public appearances since the election of Donald Trump, a man she had denounced as unfit for the presidency in speeches around the country.
“Just when you wonder whether we’re crazy — we’re not,” she said, gazing at the audience of military families surrounding her for the final event of her Joining Forces initiative. “We’re good people, all over the place.”
In the week since Election Day, the first lady has said relatively little about her husband’s successor. Unlike President Obama, who spoke to reporters in the Rose Garden and held a news conference, Michelle Obama hasn’t given a speech or an interview on her reaction.
Instead, she invited her successor, Melania Trump, to the White House for tea and has carried on with her final series of events as first lady. At each one, she’s laid down a marker for securing her legacy — but also slipped in some thoughts that reveal her disappointment.
At her event for military families Monday, she echoed her husband’s notion that Americans are not as divided as the ugly political campaign or the protests that followed have made them seem.
“We are all on one team — not Democrats first or Republicans first, but we are Americans first,” she said. “We’re patriots first.”
At her final event celebrating the accomplishments of youth in the arts this week, she expressed her views on what she thinks makes the country great, citing the inclusion of children from many diverse backgrounds, including Native Americans, immigrants and those who are gay, lesbian or transgender.
“We believe that each of these young people is a vital part of the great American story. I can’t say that enough,” she said. “And it is important to our continued greatness to see these kids as ours — not as ‘them,’ not as ‘other,’ but as ours.”
Obama then turned to the children and spoke with urgency:
“Don’t ever lose hope. Don’t ever feel fear. You belong here, you got that? Keep working hard, because it’s going to be so important now to be educated and focused.”
At one point an audience member shouted out to Obama across the East Room: “Run for president!”
“Be quiet back there,” she replied, with a smile.
The first lady has said repeatedly that she is not interested in running for public office.