Trump, speaking Saturday at the final rally of his post-election “thank you” tour, then resisted escalating the spat further, suggesting “she made that statement not meaning it the way it came out.”
But as Trump praised the Obamas for treating him so nicely when he visited the White House shortly after the election, many in the Mobile, Ala., crowd booed the first family.
Obama, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey set to air Monday on CBS, said she was now certain that her husband’s victory had inspired people because “now we’re feeling what not having hope feels like.”
“What do you give your kids if you can’t give them hope?” she added.
Trump’s comments about Michelle and President Barack Obama were among the few conciliatory notes he sounded during a victory tour in which he showed few signs of turning the page from his blustery campaign to focus on uniting a divided nation a month before his inauguration.
At each stop, the Republican recapped his election-night triumph, reignited some old political feuds while starting some new ones and did little to quiet the chants of “Lock her up!” directed at Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
At the tour’s finale at the same football stadium in Mobile that hosted the biggest rally of his campaign, Trump saluted his supporters as true “patriots” and made little attempt to reach out to the more than half of the electorate that didn’t vote for him.
“We are really the people who love this country,” he said.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 18, 2016
Trump reminisced about his campaign announcement and his ride down Trump Tower’s golden escalator. He disputed a newspaper’s account of the size of the crowd at one of his rallies and bashed the press as dishonest. And he joked that he had booked a small ballroom for his election-night party so, if he lost, he “could get out!”
Trump paid homage to the August 2015 rally in the same stadium that he said jump-started his campaign. Though the crowd was not as large on Saturday, it was no less fervid, repeatedly chanting “Build the wall!” when he renewed his vow to build an impenetrable border at the Mexican border.
Trump brought his nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, up onstage to receive cheers from his hometown crowd. When Trump’s plane landed, he received a water cannon salute from a pair of fire trucks and was greeted by several Azalea Trail Maids, local women dressed in antebellum Southern Belle outfits.
The raucous rallies, a hallmark of his campaign, are meant to salute supporters who lifted him to the presidency. But these appearances also have been his primary form of communication since the Nov. 8 election.
Trump has eschewed the traditional news conference held by a president-elect within days of winning. He’s done few interviews, announced his cabinet picks via news releases and continues to rely on Twitter to broadcast his thoughts and make public pronouncements.
After the rally, Trump planned to return to Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach, Fla., estate. Aides said the president-elect probably would spend Christmas week there and could stay until New Year’s.