Former First Lady Michelle Obama electrified the 2016 Democratic National Convention with her call for civility in the face of bullying: "When they go low, we go high."
Hillary Clinton liked the motto so much, she would go on to cite her "friend" Michelle at debates and rallies over the rest of the campaign, which she would ultimately lose.
Now, former and possibly future presidential candidates on the Democratic ticket against President Donald Trump are explicitly rejecting Mrs. Obama's call, including Clinton herself.
Following angry protests around the Capitol in response to the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and left-wing tactics like chasing Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) out of a restaurant and chanting outside the home of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), Clinton said this week "civility can start again" only when Democrats win back Congress.
"You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about," Clinton said on Tuesday. "That's why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/or the Senate, that's when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength."
Former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, who is mulling a White House bid in 2020, told supporters of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams last weekend that Michelle Obama was wrong.
"Michelle [Obama] always says, ‘When they go low, we go high,'" Holder told the crowd. "No. No. When they go low, we kick 'em. Right?"
The crowd hollered its approval and chanted "fight," as Holder added, "That's what this new Democratic Party's about."
Firebrand attorney Michael Avenatti, a political novice who's also considering running for president against Trump, specifically rejected Obama's remarks in several speeches to Democrats.
"When they go low, I say we hit harder," he said.
Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) effusively praised Obama's speech at the DNC, but he took criticism for saying in July that liberals should get "up in the face of some congresspeople." Sen. Rand Paul's (R., Ky.) wife Kelley condemned his remarks, pointing to death threats she and her husband have received and recent violence against Republicans.
Paul was assaulted in his front yard by an angry neighbor last November, leaving him with broken ribs and lung contusions, and Paul was also present when a left-wing gunman opened fire at a GOP baseball practice in June 2017 and nearly killed House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.).
NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie brought up the remarks by Holder and Clinton to Obama on Thursday and asked her if the "we go high" motto still stood.
"Absolutely," Obama said. "Fear is not a proper motivator. 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?"