Michelle Obama broke with political traditions for former first ladies on Monday evening and said that US President Donald Trump was the wrong president for the country as she mounted an impassioned speech in support of Joe Biden.
Ms Obama was the star of the first night of the Democratic National Convention, held virtually because of the pandemic that has claimed 177,000 lives and infected over 5.5 million in the US.
Her tone, her message and her body language spelt out the urgency that Democrats feel before November’s election as she called for a high turnout even as she warned the opposition may try to suppress voting.
“If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it,” she said.
Even her attire included a necklace with the word “vote”.
The former first lady drew a dystopian picture of the US under Mr Trump as the pandemic deaths toll rose and unemployment hit the highest level since the Great Depression.
“If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change this November,” Ms Obama said.
She was clear about her stance on the incumbent, saying “let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can, Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove he can do the job but he is clearly in over his head.”
Michelle Obama has been the most admired woman by Americans in consecutive Gallup polls since she and husband, former president Barrack Obama, left office in 2016. On Monday, she reminded Americans that she “hates politics” but speaks from the heart to make the right choice in this election.
Her speech capped a bustling first night of convention speeches for Democrats as they try to show unity against Mr Trump. The convention, the first in history to be held virtually, featured many of Mr Biden’s former rivals, including Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Amy Klobuchar.
“Nero fiddled while Rome burnt. [Donald] Trump golfs,” said Mr Sanders as he lamented the state of the US presidency and tried to rally his supporters to vote for Mr Biden.
The convention also featured Black Lives Matter young activists, as well as average citizens hurting from the pandemic and those who have lost family members.
Kristin Urquiza from Arizona said she holds Mr Trump responsible for her father’s death from Covid-19.
“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.
In a bid to attract Republicans, the first day of the DNC featured opposition figures who are abandoning their party’s nominee and voting for Mr Biden.
The most remarkable were former Republican Governor of Ohio John Kasich and former head of HP and eBay Meg Whitman.
"I am a lifelong Republican. But that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country,” Mr Kasich said.
Other rising stars in the party such as Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer stressed that Mr Biden would lead by science, while the first Latina Senator from Nevada Catherine Cortez Masto lambasted Mr Trump’s efforts to undermine mail-in-ballots.
The convention’s regular nightly schedule was shortened to two hours and had no live audience or delegate interruptions that marked previous meets.
On Tuesday, former second lady Jill Biden, former president Bill Clinton, and New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez will address the DNC.
Barack Obama, Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will speak on Wednesday.
On the last night, on Thursday, they will officially nominate Mr Biden.
Throughout the first night, Mr Trump appeared to be following the DNC from the White House, retweeting criticism and attacks from his supporters.