Michelle Obama defends ‘When they go low, we go high’
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Former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMinneapolis mayor on Floyd: 'Ultimately his life will have bettered our city' Obamas praise Floyd jury, urge more action: 'We cannot rest' Bush says he doesn't criticize other presidents to avoid risking friendship with Michelle Obama 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 TrumpUS gives examples of possible sanctions relief to Iran GOP lawmaker demands review over FBI saying baseball shooting was 'suicide by cop' House passes bill aimed at stopping future Trump travel ban MORE defeated Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' 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 HeitkampBill Maher blasts removal of journalist at Teen Vogue Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Harrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment 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 HolderVoter suppression bills are the first move in a bigger battle Holder, Yates lead letter backing Biden pick for Civil Rights Division at DOJ Senate panel dukes it out over voting rights 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."