Melania Trump has said little in the campaign about the type of first lady she would like to be
In many ways, Melania Trump would be a first in American history: She’d be the only first lady who is the third wife of a president, and the first to be born and raised in a communist nation, according to Carl Anthony, historian at the National First Ladies’ Library. She almost certainly has shown more skin than any other US first lady — that was her in 2006, very pregnant, in a gold bikini on the steps of her husband’s private jet in Vogue magazine.
By 2016, Melania Trump has gotten married, had a child and adopted a much more traditional posture as a candidate’s spouse. She wouldn’t be the first president’s wife to be born in another country — that would be Louisa Adams, born in England. Nor would she be the first first lady to have married a divorced man — hello, Nancy Reagan. And she’d be the third first lady to have worked as a professional model, after Pat Nixon and Betty Ford.
Experts on first ladies said Melania Trump is being smart by laying low now, especially if she is not comfortable talking about politics and policy. But eventually, they said, she’d be wise to build on what she knows. Melania Trump studied design and architecture at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia — so perhaps advocating for historical preservation. Maybe she’d expand her charity work. Even her model-perfect poise and ability to speak multiple languages could be an asset to her English-only husband during state dinners and other White House social events.
“It’s best when they draw from their experience, and marry that up with the overall focus of their husbands’ administration,” said Anita McBride , who was chief of staff to first lady Laura Bush.
Anthony said: “I think she is a great emotional support to him or a ballast for him.”
Donald Trump has signaled that his daughter, Ivanka, might be unusually prominent for a president’s daughter. He volunteers Ivanka’s name when asked whose advice he values. It was she, not Melania, who introduced her father when he announced his campaign. During breaks in Republican debates, it was Ivanka, one of Donald Trump’s five children, with whom he huddled.
NOT ARM CANDY
For all of her public discretion, Melania Trump has been consistently public about one thing: She’s more than an accessory. “I have my own mind,” she told Harper’s Bazaar in an interview published this month. “I am my own person, and I think my husband likes that about me.”
Note to Washington power snobs: Don’t expect Melania Trump to put up with condescension.
On a visit to the Trump triplex above Manhattan, one of the contestants on his show, The Apprentice, says to Melania: “You’re very, very lucky.”
“Thank you,” Melania, holding a glass of champagne, says with a glittering smile. “And he’s not lucky?”