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Former US first lady Michelle Obama launches searing attack on Trump

Former US first lady says things will get worse under him on first night of Democratic National Convention

WASHINGTON: Former first lady Michelle Obama launched a blistering attack on President Donald Trump on Monday and urged Americans to elect Democrat Joe Biden in November to end the chaos she said had been created during the four years of Mr Trump's presidency.

In an impassioned speech capping the first night of the Democratic National Convention, Mrs Obama said the Republican "has had enough time to prove that he can do the job" but had failed to meet the moment in a country reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, economic turmoil and racial injustice.

"Whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division, and a total and utter lack of empathy," she said, calling him "the wrong president" for the US.

"He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is," Mrs Obama said.

"If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don't make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it."

Mrs Obama, whose husband, Mr Barack Obama, was in the White House when Mr Biden was vice-president from 2009-2017, capped a long parade of speaker who gathered online to make the case for Mr Biden at the start of his four-day nominating convention.

The harsh takedown by Mrs Obama, regularly cited in polls as one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party, could generate the sort of voter enthusiasm some Democrats thought a virtual convention might lack. Showcasing the broad spectrum of supporters united against defeating Mr Trump, former Democratic presidential candidate and progressive Senator Bernie Sanders and prominent Republican John Kasich joined in with Mrs Obama.

"Joe Biden will end the hate and division Trump has created. He will stop the demonisation of immigrants, the coddling of white nationalists, the racist dog whistling, the religious bigotry and the ugly attacks on women," Mr Sanders said.

DISCUSSIONS WITH VOTERS

The pandemic forced Democrats to overhaul the convention. It featured discussions with voters who described their struggles confronting the virus and coping with the slumping economy and healthcare.

Ms Kristin Urquiza, 39, who lost her father to Covid-19, blamed Mr Trump's mismanagement of the pandemic for his death.

"My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump and for that, he paid with his life," she said.

"When I cast my vote for Joe Biden, I will do it for my dad."

Mr Trump did not take Mrs Obama's comments well and launched a broadside that also attacked Mr Obama and Mr Biden.

"Somebody please explain to @MichelleObama that Donald J. Trump would not be here, in the beautiful White House, if it weren't for the job done by your husband, Barack Obama," Mr Trump wrote.

"Biden was merely an afterthought, a good reason for that very late & unenthusiastic endorsement." - REUTERS, AFP

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