Michelle Obama defends ‘When they go low, we go high’
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Former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama to Simone Biles: 'We are proud of you and we are rooting for you' Obama setting up big bash to celebrate his 60th Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary 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 TrumpFormer New York state Senate candidate charged in riot Trump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE defeated Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote Women's March endorses Nina Turner in first-ever electoral endorsement 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 HeitkampJoe Manchin's secret Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Effective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests 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 HolderBiden under pressure to pick new breed of federal prosecutors Obama says Senate will vote again on voting rights Obama: Voting rights bill must pass before next election 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."