And Melania? Former first lady ‘hiding’ as Donald Trump seeks to be president again

After Melania Trump missed key events in her husband’s presidential bid earlier this year, from the start of the 2024 election in Iowa to Donald Trump’s Super Tuesday victory party, reporters asked her to the former first lady if she planned to participate in the electoral campaign. Her response has been to “stay tuned.”

But since she made that comment in March, after she and Donald Trump voted in the Florida primary, Melania Trump has largely refrained from appearing in public. The few exceptions have included a couple of fundraisers in April and her son’s high school graduation.

It is evident that The former first lady did not accompany the presumptive Republican presidential candidate on any of the days of his trial lasting more than a month in New York. She was not there last month for the guilty verdict or the next day for her remarks at Trump Tower. She also did not appear on June 14 at a 78th birthday party thrown for Trump by his fan club, nor at any of the campaign rallies she has held in recent months.

Her absence during Trump’s trial and other important moments is unusual, said Katherine Jellison, a history professor at Ohio University who studies first ladies. But Ella Jellison said that maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise, since Melania Trump seems reluctant to follow the traditional public role of a politician’s wife. As first lady, she also kept a low profile and was not a regular presence in the 2020 presidential campaign in which her husband lost to Joe Biden.

“But everything the Trumps do seems to go against the standard playbook of how candidates and their spouses behave,” Jellison said.

Melania Trump’s behavior deviates from how other politicians have trusted their spouses. Politicians sometimes turn to their wives to try to reach female voters. Spouses may also accompany candidates as a way to give voters a clearer idea of ​​what the candidate is like outside of the political arena.

During this year’s Republican primary, for example, the wife of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Casey DeSantistraveled with him, gave interviews and formed a coalition called Mamas for DeSantis before he suspended his candidacy for the nomination. Vivek Ramaswamy’s wife, Dr. Apoorva Ramaswamy, was also on the campaign trail, often appearing along with her two young children to talk about the importance of family.

The Associated Press contacted 15 people who have recently been to major fundraising events or the Trump property in Mar-a-Lago. None reported meeting Melania Trump at the Florida property.

His office has not responded to several requests for comment. His only public statement of late came two days after the Florida Republican Party announced with fanfare that his son Barron Trump, 18, was elected state delegate for the Republican National Convention and his office said he would not be able to attend, citing prior commitments.

Reporters in the New York courtroom during Trump’s felony trial repeatedly asked him: “Where is Melania?”, but he never responded. Trump’s allies cited his son’s school calendar as the main reason for his absence without denying that it was a delicate time for the family.

Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, was asked if there was talk of her accompanying him to court.

“That was not a discussion I wanted to have,” Blanche responded, speaking with Miami trial attorney David Oscar Markus for his “For The Defense” podcast. “This was a difficult case because of the nature of the charges, the evidence that came in, the history, how much time had passed.”

Some of the testimonies conveyed how Trump allegedly had sex with porn actress Stormy Daniels in July 2006, about four months after Melania Trump gave birth to Barron; Trump has denied Daniels’ claim. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, testified that Trump didn’t seem to care how the story of an encounter he sought to bury would damage his marriage as much as he cared that it would damage his 2016 presidential aspirations.

But Hope Hicks, Trump’s 2016 campaign communications chief, testified that Trump was worried in 2016 about how his wife would view a story involving Playboy model Karen MacDougal and wanted her to make sure the newspapers were not delivered. at his residence.

Melania Trump did not post anything to her social media accounts after her husband was convicted of 34 felonies. That contrasts with Trump’s older children, who quickly condemned the verdict. Her daughter Ivanka Trump posted a photo on Instagram of herself as a child with a younger Trump and the message “I love you dad.” Tiffany Trump, his youngest daughter, accompanied him to court last month for closing arguments in the trial.

“I think it’s very difficult for her,” Trump said of his wife, in an interview with Fox News after the verdict. “I mean, she’s fine. But, you know, she has to read all this garbage.”

What has Trump said about his wife Melania?

Despite her absence on the campaign trail, Trump mentions her often and shares conversations between the two, showing his followers that she is still involved behind the scenes by offering commentary to the former president.

Larry Snowden, president of the fan group “Club 47,” said he last saw the former first lady at a February gala hosted by the “Trumpettes,” a group of female supporters. He said he had never had a face-to-face interaction with her, but when he saw her there, she was “so lovely.”

“He was very happy, smiling and welcoming anyone who wanted to come up and shake his hand or anything,” Snowden said.

Snowden said that expects Melania Trump to reappear and participate throughout the campaign and deliver key speeches, but that he also believes that the former president “will continue to be very protective of her.”