Michelle Obama defends ‘When they go low, we go high’
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Former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaDem holds single-digit lead in race to replace Franken Trump rebukes Holder, Clinton with 'jobs not mobs' refrain Nikki Haley powerfully rebuts Trump 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 TrumpTrump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position White House aides hadn’t heard of Trump's new tax cut: report MORE defeated Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Bolton tells Russians 2016 meddling had little effect | Facebook eyes major cyber firm | Saudi site gets hacked | Softbank in spotlight over Saudi money | YouTube fights EU 'meme ban' proposal Dems lower expectations for 'blue wave' Election Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout 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 HeitkampDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma —Senate debates highlight fight over pre-existing conditions | Support grows for Utah Medicaid expansion measure | Arkansas health official defends work requirements Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue 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 HolderBen Shapiro condemns Republicans confronting Nancy Pelosi: ‘Stupid, nasty, and counterproductive’ Trump rebukes Holder, Clinton with 'jobs not mobs' refrain Eric Trump calls out Holder on kicking comments: 'Who says this?' 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."