Melania Trump immediately shared the kind of heartfelt empathy for the victims of the worst health crisis in a century that her husband has rarely offered and that the personality contest nominating him for a second term has largely ignored. She expressed her gratitude to first responders, nurses and doctors who have treated Americans sick with the virus, and testified to her husband’s concern for all who are afflicted with it. She also tried to humanize the president at a time when he faces a huge shortage of female voters.
“My deepest sympathy goes out to all who have lost a loved one and my prayers go out to those who are sick or in pain. I know a lot of people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know that you are not alone, ”she said. .
Yet one of the president’s top economic advisers, Larry Kudlow, spoke of the economy as if it was already in the midst of a protracted expansion. He also hinted that the virus is in the rearview mirror although new hot spots are emerging and scientists are warning that a public health nightmare may loom in the fall.
“It was horrible, hardship and a broken heart were everywhere,” Kudlow said, in the White House’s latest premature indication that the crisis was over.
While the first lady’s compassion was touching, it also served a political purpose, as she pledged that “Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of all of them. people affected by this terrible pandemic ”.
It will now be more difficult for critics to say that the convention has completely ignored the pandemic and that Trump supporters could welcome signs that the White House believes the crisis is under control.
In reality, the president’s statements about the virus – that he would not threaten the United States, that it was time to reopen businesses and rallies in early spring, and that a nationwide testing operation was unnecessary – were always wrong.
Even the staging of Melania Trump’s speech recalled the contradictions in the administration’s response. A large crowd that filled the rose garden did not observe social distancing. Few of them appeared to be wearing masks and guests were not tested for Covid-19, according to a person who attended the speech. Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s chief of staff, said people in rows close to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have been tested.
So, while Melania Trump’s speech was a rare admission of the depth of tragedy by the Trump administration, it in itself contributed to the culture of denial and politicization that has made the pandemic worse.
As is often the case, Melania Trump’s appearance was enigmatic and a bit mysterious, and seemed to be driven by a personal agenda – though in referring to her husband as ‘Donald’ she seemed to be trying to allude to one. softer side of the gruff. head of state – and achieve some of the goals of his presidential campaign.
“I’m here because we need my husband to be our President and Commander-in-Chief for four more years. He is the best for our country, ”she said.
The first lady’s staff told CNN she did not allow the speech in advance with the West Wing or the campaign, so it is difficult to know the extent of the political calculation and cooperation involved. .
Melania Trump’s speeches, while increasingly well-crafted, often seem to take place in a parallel universe to one where her husband subjects the rest of the country to one of the most turbulent presidencies in history.
For example, she said that “honesty is what we citizens deserve from our president,” seemingly oblivious to the hurricane of lies and alternative facts that have undergone her administration from its earliest hours.
Stepping away from her husband’s culture war, she said she had “reflected on the racial unrest in our country. It is a harsh reality that we are not proud of certain parts of our history ”.
And without any apparent hint of irony, she berated Democrats for what she described as a corrosive attack policy.
“I don’t want to use this precious time to attack the other side,” she said, “because as we saw last week, this kind of talk only serves to divide the country further” .
His comments after a night of inflammatory rhetoric from the convention that included two of Trump’s children, Eric and Tiffany, painting an apocalyptic take on what America would look like under Biden, claiming he was a threat to values and cherished ideals of the country.
A call to women
One of the central goals of the first lady, as a person much more popular than her husband, was to portray her husband as a caring and supportive partner who has elevated women to positions of power in his administration as his campaign aims to improve its position with voters. ahead of his November match with Biden.
Throughout the summer, the former vice president consistently led Trump among women by over 20 points, reflecting the president’s steady erosion of support over the past three and a half years as he pushed back women with his caustic tweets, his tendency to portray women who criticize him as ‘mean’ or ‘crazy’, his cavalier approach to the pandemic and his divisive tactics as the country grapples with police shootings against men black people and systematic racism.
Realizing that influencing female voters is one of the biggest challenges he faces in November, he began making concerted appeals to America’s “suburban housewives” – a clumsy effort to reverse the white women’s votes – falsely warning that Biden would. dismantle the police and destroy the suburbs by reinstating Obama-era regulations aimed at ending racial segregation in housing.
He doesn’t appear to have gained much ground with this approach – a Washington Post-ABC poll last month showed women trusted Biden over Trump to handle crime and security by double-digit margin.
Trump slashed white women from 52% to 43% over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016, but polls have shown a growing number of white women are turning away from him. The 1972 exit polls show Democrats never won the majority of white women. Former President Bill Clinton won 48% to 43% white women in 1996, but the party never reached the 50% threshold.
Besides Melania Trump, Republicans used the second night of the convention to spotlight other high-profile women in the Trump administration.
The President’s former campaign manager and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway – who announced on Sunday she was stepping down from the White House to devote more time to her family – was featured in a video about the female members of the Trump team.
Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also appeared in this montage, alongside Grisham and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who all juggled the demands of being mothers who working.
Melania Trump has described her husband as someone who supports her in “everything I do” and has spoken directly to mothers and parents across America: “You are warriors,” she said.
“In my husband, you have a president who will not stop fighting for you and your families. I see how hard he works, day and night, ”she said. “And despite the unprecedented attacks from the media and the opposition. He won’t give up. In fact, if you tell him it’s not possible, he works harder. “