Melania Trump expressed sympathy for Americans who have lost loved ones to the coronavirus pandemic, acknowledging the heavy toll of a public health crisis the president failed to contain during a keynote address on second evening of the Republican convention.
Speaking from the White House rose garden on Tuesday, the first lady offered her condolences to the loved ones of the more than 178,000 Americans who have now died from the virus and millions more who have been infected, making her husband the best hope from the country. to move beyond this serious chapter, despite widespread criticism of the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.
“I want to applaud the fact that since March our lives have changed dramatically,” she said to an audience seated, regardless of social distance, in folding chairs, her husband in the front row applauding. Almost no one wore a mask.
“I know a lot of people are anxious and some feel helpless,” she continued. “I want you to know that you are not alone. My husband’s administration will not stop fighting until there is an effective treatment for a vaccine available to all. Donald will not rest until he has done everything possible to take care of everyone affected by this pandemic.
His remarks were a shocking reminder of the trauma and turmoil that still ravages the country, after an evening of misleading testimony that sought to downplay, rewrite or completely ignore the public health crisis. At one point, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow referred to the ongoing pandemic using the past.
Tuesday night’s speech was a rare public appearance for Melania Trump, who is just the second foreign-born first lady in U.S. history. In her remarks, she recalled growing up in Slovenia and dreaming of becoming an American citizen, a theme that was punctuated earlier in the evening when her husband oversaw a naturalization ceremony for several immigrants in the middle of the prime-time program. .
Melania Trump made a dramatic entry for her speech, which concluded the second night of a heartbreaking convention dominated by members of the Trump family and his administration. She walked alone from the colonnade of the White House to a staged podium in the rose garden she recently renovated. The decision to use the White House as the backdrop for an expressly political event drew sharp criticism from ethics experts and Democrats.
During her remarks, she referred to the national unrest over racial injustice and the police, which erupted again after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man whose lawyer said that he was paralyzed after being beaten several times.
“Like all of you, I have reflected on the racial unrest in our country,” she said, after recalling an official visit to a slave port in Ghana as first lady. “It’s a harsh reality that we are not proud of some parts of our history. I encourage people to focus on our future while learning from our past. “
In a sharp break with the angry and grievous remarks made by Trump’s children on Tuesday, Melania was reserved as she sought to soften her husband’s appeal and present him as a leader committed to improving race relations , as polls show him behind Joe Biden with only 10 weeks left until Election Day.
“My husband’s administration has been working to try to bring about changes regarding race and religion in this country,” she said.
Yet his attempts to reframe Trump’s rhetoric on race and immigration are complicated by his own history on the issues. In the past, Melania Trump has defended her husband’s racist claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, saying in a 2011 interview that the American people deserve to see his birth certificate. In another shocking episode, she wore a jacket that read “I really don’t care, do I?” As she boarded a plane to visit a detention center for migrant children.
In her remarks, Melania warned the media to focus on “gossip,” a comment which came hours after it was reported that she had made “derogatory remarks” about her husband and her children. adult children who will be published in an upcoming book written by a former confidante of the first lady.
She also lamented online bullying and the downsides of technology, central to her Be Best campaign as first lady. Her move has drawn criticism for ignoring her husband’s own conduct on social media, including attacking a teenage climate activist and telling four members of Congress of color – all of them Americans – to return to their countries.
Likewise, on Tuesday, Melania Trump said she would not use her remarks to attack her husband’s political opponents, accusing Democrats of hosting a divisive convention last week. Still, she made no reference to the grim, apocalyptic vision presented by Republicans on the first night of their convention, which had been touted as an optimistic affair.
“This kind of talk only serves to further divide the country,” she said of the Democrats’ attacks.
There were also some misleading statements in his remarks, including that Trump was the first president to discuss the importance of religious freedom at the United Nations. Barack Obama had spoken on the subject, just like other presidents before him.
She also claimed that the number of high-ranking women in the Trump administration was “unprecedented”. In fact, the percentage of women appointed by Trump to key leadership positions is lower than that of Obama or Bill Clinton, according to media analysis.
The speech marked a dramatic turning point since her first appearance at the Republican National Convention four years ago, when she rehearsed exact phrases and themes from a speech given by Michelle Obama, then First Lady, at a previous Democratic convention. A Trump organization speechwriter has been blamed.
Promoting her husband’s re-election, Melania Trump said her husband was “a genuine person” who “wants nothing more than the prosperity of this country.”
With a smile, she added, “As you have learned over the past five years, he is not a traditional politician.”