BY NIKHILA NATARAJAN
New York, Aug 26 (IANS) Under a clear night sky, with the sound of crickets for company and an adoring crowd of Donald Trump acolytes in attendance, US First Lady Melania Trump starred on the second night of the Republican National Convention, appealing to the “incredible people who took a chance on the businessman who had never been in politics” to vote for her husband’s second term in the upcoming November election.
“He’s not a traditional politician. He doesn’t just speak words, he demands action, and he gets the results. And it is something that I have always admired,” Melania said during her 28-minute speech, seeking to frame Trump as the insurgent once again, that heady messaging which catapulted Trump to power in 2016.
Dressed in an olive green skirt-suit, almost military-inspired, Melania Trump was speaking late on Tuesday from a renovated Rose Garden at the White House, a location choice that drew strong criticism from Republicans who have turned against Trump.
“The First Lady of the United States is delivering a political speech at the White House, the People’s House, behind the presidential seal. This is such a sad moment for our country,” The Lincoln Project tweeted.
“They are not monarchs, this is not their property! That’s not Barbie’s dream house, that’s the American people’s house!” an NBC prime time anchor exclaimed.
Reading off a teleprompter and mixing the personal with the political, Melania drew on her “experiences” as first lady, speaking of those who are fighting “extraordinary circumstances” and thoughts of whom she takes home in her heart each day.
Overall, the Melania keynote headlined the Trump campaign’s effort to persuade fence-sitter voters and women in particular at a time when Trump is trailing Joe Biden in national polls.
Melania Trump spoke on a night that featured the president’s daughter Tiffany Trump and son Eric Trump — all pushing the Trump family’s carefully scripted storyline that mostly avoided mention of the more than 178,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus.
Melania Trump was the only speaker in the last 24 hours to express sympathy for the families of the dead and dwell on the pandemic’s deadly blow. Oddly enough, just a handful of members who marked attendance at the Rose Garden were wearing masks.
“Donald will not rest until he has helped everyone who has been affected by this pandemic,” Melania Trump promised voters.
From Tiffany Trump’s “whether you realise it or not, you’re a Trump supporter” to Eric Trump’s “if you don’t have a border, you don’t have a country”, Day Two of the RNC was an all Trump all-the-time show.
“Give them hell! Continue to be unapologetic!” Trump’s son egged his father on in a “personal” sign off line.
The First Lady stepped onto the Convention stage after many months away from the media glare. She steered clear of the flubs made during her 2016 convention speech which included large chunks similar to a Michelle Obama speech.
Melania Trump is only the second foreign-born first lady in US history. A native of Slovenia, she is Trump’s third wife and the couple have a son, Barron, now 14. Melania Trump became a US citizen in 2006, a year after she married Donald Trump.
Melania’s speech came after her husband showcased a curated naturalisation ritual with a group of five newly minted Americans from five countries, including India. Critics are calling this a “galling” political stunt at a time when legal immigration has suffered deep cuts.
“I’m here because we need my husband to be our president, and commander in chief for four more years. He’s what is best for our country. We all know Donald Trump makes no secrets about how he feels about things. Total honesty is what we as citizens deserve from our president. Whether you like it or not, you always know what he’s thinking,” the First Lady, who leads an anti-bullying campaign, said about her Twitter-struck husband.
Early reports from the Nielsen company show that the final hour of the opening night was watched by 15.8 million people across the top six television networks. For the Democrats, the corresponding number for the opening night last week was nearly 3 million more at 18.7 million.
BY NIKHILA NATARAJAN