Michelle Obama defends ‘When they go low, we go high’
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Former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama leads USA dodgeball against Corden's Team UK Michelle Obama to lead female celebrity dodgeball team in 'Late Late Show' face-off Obamas sign deal with Spotify to produce podcasts 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 EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE defeated Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden to debate for first time as front-runner Top Trump ally says potential Amash presidential bid could be problematic in Michigan Chaotic Trump transition leaks: Debates must tackle how Democrats will govern differently 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 HeitkampLobbying World Pro-trade group targets Democratic leadership in push for new NAFTA On The Money: Stocks sink on Trump tariff threat | GOP caught off guard by new trade turmoil | Federal deficit grew 38 percent this fiscal year | Banks avoid taking position in Trump, Dem subpoena fight 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 HolderThe most important pledge Democratic presidential candidates can make Congress and contempt: What you need to know The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats wonder: Can Nadler handle the Trump probe? 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."