Michelle Obama defends ‘When they go low, we go high’
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Former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaHistory's pick: Kamala Harris joins a long list of forerunners The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence California Democrats back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup MORE defended her "when they go low, we go high" motto during an appearance Thursday on NBC's "Today," pushing back at Democrats who say the party should fight fire with fire.

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"Think about how you want your kids to be raised," said the former first lady, who is preparing to go on a book tour.

"Do you want them afraid of their neighbors? Do you want them angry? Do you want them vengeful?"

She added that "fear is not a proper motivator," and that "hope wins out." 

"When they go low, we go high" was a message echoed by Democrats after the former first lady first uttered the phrase during a memorable and well-received speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

The first lady's words came amid the most negative presidential campaign in memory. But Republicans got the last laugh when President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE defeated Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Trump campaign spox rips GOP congressman over rejection of QAnon conspiracy Biden hits back after Trump's attacks on Harris MORE in the general election. 

Since Trump won, he has taken a scorched-earth approach to opponents and critics, and a number of Democrats have called on their party to take on a more bellicose tone.

Clinton on Tuesday said that "you cannot be civil" with the Republican Party because it "wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about."

Her comments were later criticized by some Democrats, including centrist Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampCentrists, progressives rally around Harris pick for VP 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama MORE (N.D.), who is facing a tough reelection battle. 

The tougher stand is popular with many in the party, however. 

Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderObamas discuss pandemic, voting, anxiety and community in new podcast Joy Reid debut delivers 2.6 million viewers for MSNBC The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Facebook — Republicans rejigger summer convention plans MORE, seen as a close ally of former President Obama, called for a combative party in Wednesday comments.

"When they go low, we kick them," he said. "That’s what this new Democratic Party is about."