Michelle Obama explains why people shouldn't look to her to run for office

Michelle Obama spoke bluntly to those hoping she will run for political office, telling an audience in Los Angeles that Americans need to focus more on advocating for themselves than looking for someone else to take on that responsibility.

The former first lady talked with actress Tracee Ellis Ross at the United State Of Women Summit on Saturday, covering a range of topics. Obama didn’t mince words when the discussion turned to politics and a voice from the crowd interrupted to ask why she wouldn’t seek an elected post.

“Stop that,” said Obama, who since her husband’s presidential term ended early last year has frequently said she has no plans to run for anything herself.

She told her audience that society has yet to understand her husband’s famed campaign slogan, “Yes, We Can.” Obama spoke about the need for women to come together as a community before looking to one individual woman to solve their problems, and said in that sense she is no different than Hillary Clinton.

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Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, Illinois, November 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jim Young (Photo credit should read JIM YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images)
Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, Illinois, November 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jim Young (Photo credit should read JIM YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images)
Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks with poet Elizabeth Alexander at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, Illinois, November 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jim Young (Photo credit should read JIM YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images)
Former First Lady Michelle Obama (L) holds hands with poet Elizabeth Alexander at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, Illinois, November 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jim Young (Photo credit should read JIM YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images)
Former First Lady Michelle Obama laughs during the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, Illinois, November 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jim Young (Photo credit should read JIM YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images)
Former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, Illinois, October 31, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jim Young (Photo credit should read JIM YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 31: Former first Lady Michelle and former president Barack Obama are introduced at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit on October 31, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The two-day event will feature a mix of community leaders politicians and artists exploring creative solutions to common problems, and experiencing art, technology, and music from around the world. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, Illinois, October 31, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jim Young (Photo credit should read JIM YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Michelle Obama speaks onstage The Streicker Center hosts a Special Evening with Former First Lady Michelle Obama at The Streicker Center on October 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Michelle Obama (L) and David Letterman speak onstage as The Streicker Center hosts a Special Evening with Former First Lady Michelle Obama at The Streicker Center on October 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Michelle Obama (L) and David Letterman speak onstage as The Streicker Center hosts a Special Evening with Former First Lady Michelle Obama at The Streicker Center on October 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 03: Former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama watches the surprise video message from her husband Former President of the United States Barack Obama during Pennsylvania Conference For Women 2017 at Pennsylvania Convention Center on October 3, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for Pennsylvania Conference for Women)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 03: Former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama and Screenwriter, director and producer Shonda Rhimes speak on stage during Pennsylvania Conference For Women 2017 at Pennsylvania Convention Center on October 3, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for Pennsylvania Conference for Women)
DENVER, CO - JULY 25: Former First Lady Michelle Obama speaks, emphasizing that women must celebrate their strength, during a live conversation with The Women's Foundation of Colorado President and CEO Lauren Y. Casteel at Pepsi Center on July 25, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Jason Bahr/Getty Images for The Women's Foundation of Colorado)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 03: Screenwriter, director and producer Shonda Rhimes and Former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama pose for a photo together during Pennsylvania Conference For Women 2017 at Pennsylvania Convention Center on October 3, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for Pennsylvania Conference for Women)
DENVER, CO - JULY 25: Former First Lady Michelle Obama speaks, emphasizing that women must celebrate their strength, during a live conversation with The Women's Foundation of Colorado at Pepsi Center on July 25, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Jason Bahr/Getty Images for The Women's Foundation of Colorado)
THE 25TH ESPYS - Theatre - The world's best athletes and biggest stars join host Peyton Manning for 'The 25th ESPYS presented by Capital One' live from the Microsoft Theater on WEDNESDAY, JULY 12 (8:00-11:00 p.m. EDT) on ABC. (Photo by Image Group LA/ABC via Getty Images) MICHELLE OBAMA
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 12: Former First Lady Michelle Obama (C) speaks onstage with Special Olympics athletes at The 2017 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 7: Former U.S. President Barack Obama receives the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile In Courage Award from Caroline Kennedy as Michelle Obama and Jack Schlossberg look on at the John F. Kennedy Library May 7, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. Obama was honored for 'his enduring commitment to democratic ideals and elevating the standard of political courage in a new century,' with specific mention of his expansion of healthcare options, his leadership on confronting climate change and his restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba. (Photo by CJ Gunther-Pool/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 03: Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive for a roundtable discussion at the South Shore Cultural Center about the Obama Presidential Center, which is scheduled to be built in nearby Jackson Park, on May 3, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Presidential Center design envisions three buildings, a museum, library and forum. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 03: Former first lady Michelle Obama and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel arrive for a roundtable discussion at the South Shore Cultural Center about the Obama Presidential Center, which is scheduled to be built in nearby Jackson Park, on May 3, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Presidential Center design envisions three buildings, a museum, library and forum. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 27: Former United States first lady Michelle Obama waves and greets the audience during the AIA Conference on Architecture 2017 on April 27, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. Michelle Obama is making one of her first public speeches at the Orlando Conference since leaving the White House. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 27: Former United States first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the AIA Conference on Architecture 2017 on April 27, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. Michelle Obama is making one of her first public speeches at the Orlando Conference since leaving the White House. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Michelle Obama leaves Upland restaurant on March 10, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
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“When I hear people say, ‘You run,’ it’s part of the problem,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do before we’re focused on ‘the who.’ Because we’re ‘the who.’”

“We are the answer,” she continued. “All of us here in the room are the answer to our own problems ― it is not finding the one right person that we think can save us from ourselves. It’s us. It’s us.”

Obama said that the small ways individuals find to support women’s voices within their own circle will have more of an impact than she could have.

“That’s where it starts. Looking for the next person to run, and I don’t mean to cut that off, but that’s been our distraction,” she said. Mentioning that many of her husband’s supporters thought he was going to be the person to “save us,” she noted that “he didn’t end racism.”

She made a veiled reference to President Donald Trump and his defeat of Clinton in 2016, saying, “In light of the last election, I’m concerned about us as women. What is going on in our heads that we let that happen? What are girls dreaming about when the most qualified person running was a woman and look what we did?

Obama also told Ross that women still need to find ways to empower the girls in their lives to have a voice.

“There are still those who aren’t speaking up at their own dinner tables,” she said. “They’re not going to contradict their husbands or their fathers. And we have to figure out, are we doing that? Are we part of that?” 

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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