Michael Moore interrupted hosting duties at his 15th annual Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan to make a bold suggestion about the 2020 presidential race: He urged former first lady Michelle Obama to jump into the ring and predicted that if she did, she would trounce Donald Trump.
“She would beat him. She would crush him,” Moore told Deadline on Thursday morning, just before he stepped onstage for a panel at the festival and after suggesting the same thing Wednesday to Brian Williams on MSNBC’s The Eleventh Hour following the Democratic debate in Detroit. “It’s clear that Michelle Obama is a beloved person. I’ve seen one or two polls that show her as the most-loved American. And why wouldn’t we run a person like that? The stakes are so high — why would we risk anything else?”
The Oscar-winning filmmaker, a longtime liberal activist and one of the most outspoken figures in the entertainment industry, has expressed his disgust for Trump from the stage to the screen. In 2017, he starred on Broadway in The Terms of My Surrender, his one-man show that came with the tagline, “Can a Broadway show bring down a sitting president?” He followed that up a year later with Fahrenheit 11/9, his anti-Trump documentary that earned $6.3 million at the domestic box office.
Moore tells Deadline he would volunteer to run for president himself if he thought he could demolish Trump, but he believes Obama is just the ticket.
“She’s the one who can do it,” he said. “People, when they hear this idea, they know she’s the one.”
In his MSNBC segment (watch it below), Moore was asked who he thought could beat Trump among the nearly two dozen current Democratic candidates.
“In my humble opinion, four of these candidates running could beat Trump: Bernie [Sanders], [Joe] Biden, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren,” he said. “They could beat him. But Hillary beat him. It’s not enough just to beat Trump. The only way to remove Trump is to crush Trump.”
Moore, who championed Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primaries, said he remains a supporter of the Vermont senator but that neither Sanders nor his top Democratic rivals are in Obama’s league as a candidate. “They’re not as strong,” he told Deadline today.
There is evidence to suggest Obama’s appeal as a potential presidential contender. She filled arenas during the recent book tour for her bestselling memoir Becoming. The tour featured her in conversation with celebrity moderators including Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Ellen DeGeneres and Sarah Jessica Parker.
At some of those appearances she expressed relief at leaving the White House behind, but Moore senses that’s changing.
“As each month of her book tour went on — if you watched it on C-SPAN — she was no longer the reluctant ‘I don’t want to [be in the White House] anymore’ American,” Moore told Deadline. “She took to the stage to a tremendous roar from the audience, a diverse audience of all kinds of Americans, and she started getting more and more into the attack and the analysis of what we’re going through and making it very clear that she had not given up, that she was not somehow removed but actually very much engaged.”
Moore added, “What I said on [MSNBC] last night is that I know, of course, she doesn’t want to go back [to the White House], but there are those moments in history when your country calls you to serve — there’s no choice.”
Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival runs through Sunday.