Michelle Obama is Dem rock star many wish would run for president

The most popular Democrat in the country is about to go on a highly anticipated book tour that is likely to remind the country of her political muscle.

Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaTrump should heed a 1974 warning penned by Bush 8-year-old girl goes viral dressing up as hero Michelle Obama Transplanted uterus: Complications on fertility shaming are born MORE will talk to large crowds in arenas that hold rock concerts and NBA games. She’ll appear all over the media and could sell more books than prospective 2020 candidates Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenGillum reached out to O’Rourke amid 2020 speculation: report O'Rourke spoke with Al Sharpton amid 2020 speculation Warren has contacted 100 people in early 2020 primary states: report MORE, Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCorker to introduce resolution holding Saudi crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi's death Gillum reached out to O’Rourke amid 2020 speculation: report O'Rourke spoke with Al Sharpton amid 2020 speculation MORE and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDems ask if Trump aide Bill Shine is breaking ethics laws The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump searches for next chief of staff | Congress, Trump dig in for funding fight | Why O'Rourke worries some Dems Warren has contacted 100 people in early 2020 primary states: report MORE.

But the former first lady is decidedly not running for president. 

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“Absolutely not,” she said in a Thursday interview on the “Today Show” before a large crowd of fans. “I have never wanted to be a politician. It's one of those things that nothing has changed in me to make me want to run for elected office.”

Unlike some politicians, there's no swaying the former first lady, Obama allies say. 

“She has always said ‘hell no,’ and she means ‘hell no,’ " said one former Obama White House aide. “And I know a lot of folks think that’s a damn shame because she’d do so well.”

Obama is in the news not only because of her upcoming book “Becoming” but because of a debate within the Democratic Party over how to combat President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Ayers decision casts harsh light on Trump NASA offers to show Stephen Curry evidence from moon landings Freedom Caucus calls on leadership to include wall funding, end to 'catch and release' in funding bill MORE and Republicans that centers on how tough a line Democrats should take. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — NRCC exposes security flaws 2 years after Russia hacks | Google Plus to shut down early | Scathing House report scolds Equifax for breach | McCarthy knocks Google ahead of CEO's hearing Press: Mueller closes in on Trump McCarthy dismisses Dem-led Trump probes MORE this week told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that “you cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.”

Even people close to the Obamas such as former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderTrump on sharing photo of Rosenstein behind bars: 'He should have never picked a special counsel' If the GOP wants to win, it needs to champion the middle class Trump retweets Pence parody account attacking Clinton MORE, say it’s time to move on from her infamous line from the 2016 Democratic National Convention, “When they go low, we go high.”

But Obama said Thursday her message “absolutely” still applies. 

“Fear is not — it’s not a proper motivator,” she said on NBC’s “Today Show.” 

“Hope wins out. And if you think about how you want your kids to be raised, how you want them to think about life and their opportunities, do you want them afraid of their neighbors? Do you want them angry? Do you want them vengeful?

“We want them to grow up with promise and hope,” Obama continued. “And we can’t model something different if we want them to be better than that.” 

As the country appears more splintered than ever, Obama’s aspirational tone gives the former first lady a high moral position within the party and American life. It is a similar tone Obama employed during her time as first lady, when she largely attempted to leave the political jabbing to her husband, focusing on children's health and nutrition issues as well as assisting military families. And it is one that will likely remain untarnished in the Obama post-presidency because of her adamance in not running for political office. 

Even as she tries to remain above the political fray, Obama will likely become one of the most sought-after surrogates for Democrats trying to defeat Trump in 2020. The then-first lady was an active participant in 2016, though it wasn’t enough for Clinton.

Obama remains popular. A Zogby Analytics poll in May suggested she would start out with an advantage over Trump, with 48 percent approving of her her compared with 39 percent for the president. A yougov.com poll in April showed a 90 percent favorability rating among Democrats. 

“When she speaks, she doesn’t come from a political background. She doesn’t come from a place of polling numbers,” said Michael Starr Hopkins, a Democratic strategist and veteran of former President Obama’s 2008 campaign. “There’s a very authentic message that comes from her and people trust her.”

“Her popularity among her fans is as clear as the six-figure ticket sales for the book tour,” added Peter Slevin, who authored the book "Michelle Obama: A Life” and is also an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Slevin was also on hand for a star-studded get-out-the-vote rally with Obama last month in Miami. “The response of the crowd could only be described as rapturous when they heard her speak,” he said.

He called Obama’s upcoming 10 city book tour — where Ticketmaster was pre-selling tickets to events at the Barclay’s Center in New York and Capital One Arena in Washington — “unprecedented.” 

Katherine Jellison, a professor and chairwoman of history at Ohio University, who has studied first ladies, said it speaks to the tenor of the political climate. 

“I think at a time when so much of the rhetoric is divisive people continue to like her very much because her rhetoric was upbeat and hopeful,” she said. 

In terms of first ladies, she said the closest figure to Obama is Eleanor Roosevelt, who became a spokeswoman of sorts on issues of social justice and human rights. 

“Even though Michelle Obama has never held elected office, she’s drawing crowds because she’s a moral compass for many Americans,” Jellison said.  

But Washington insiders caution the goodwill Obama has garnered with much of the public could rapidly evaporate if she takes on a more politically tough tone ahead of next month’s midterm elections and the 2020 White House race.

“Part of the reason she’s so popular is, for the most part, she’s stayed out of politics,” said Penny Young Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, a conservative women’s group.

While Nance praised Obama as a “good first lady” and “very dignified,” she said “the moment she opens her mouth and starts sharing her political views [our members] are not going to support her.”

In the interview on the "Today Show" on Thursday, Obama said she wants to serve — in her own way. 

"There’s so many ways to make an impact,” she said. “Politics is just not my thing.”