First lady Melania Trump delivered the keynote address at the RNC from the Rose Garden on Tuesday, offering a softer touch than her polarizing husband as he seeks a second term and acknowledging the impact the coronavirus has had on the country.
“My husband’s administration will not stop fighting until there is an effective treatment or vaccine,” she vowed. “Donald will not rest until he has done everything he can to help everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic.”
She expressed gratitude to medical professionals working at personal risk to themselves to help the afflicted. She also thanked military personnel, first responders, and their families, calling them “heroes” in their own right. Trump celebrated 100 years of women’s suffrage.
“I know I speak for my husband and the entire family when I say we have not forgotten the incredible people who were willing to take a chance on a businessman who had never worked in politics,” she said.
Trump also reflected on the racial tension in America, calling on an end to looting but also more tolerance and unity. “Like all of you, I have reflected on the racial unrest in our country,” the first lady said. “It’s a harsh reality. We are not proud of parts of our history.“
“Let us remember that we are one nation under God, and we need to cherish one another,” she said.
“Tonight is the first lady’s night,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh in a call with reporters earlier in the day.
“Since taking office,” the first lady said at an event celebrating women’s suffrage, “my husband and this administration have taken historic measures to empower and support women in the United States — and around the world.”
A former model, Trump immigrated to the U.S. from Slovenia. She is the second first lady born outside the U.S., after Louisa Adams, and the only one whose first language is not English. She was naturalized in 2006, after she wed the future president — and “10 years of paperwork and patience,” she said on Tuesday night.
In her capacity as the first lady, Trump has focused on children’s issues. She has been particularly interested in combating online bullying, spearheading the Be Best campaign, which political opponents often contrast with the president’s pugnacious Twitter persona.
The audience watching Trump at the White House on Tuesday did not sit 6 feet apart, and most were not wearing masks. The Trump campaign said earlier in the day that coronavirus experts were consulted in the preparation of all convention events involving live audiences.
Trump urged those struggling with addiction to seek professional help.
“We need my husband to be our president and commander in chief for four more years,” she said, calling him an “authentic person” in a reference to his directness and unfiltered commentary. She closed with a call for the president’s reelection: “I believe that we need my husband’s leadership now more than ever.”