During her speech at the Republican National Convention, Melania Trump spoke about her path to citizenship, acknowledged the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, and said she would be proud to cast her vote for President Trump this November. In touting her #BeBest campaign, she called out how “mean and manipulative” social media can be—prompting people on social media to note how her husband has used it to target opponents and bash critics.
The First Lady, who grew up in Slovenia, spoke about coming to the United States at the age of 26, telling the (mask-less) crowd at the White House that she studied for a decade before becoming a citizen. “As an immigrant and a very independent woman, I understand what a privilege it is to live here and to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities we have,” she said. Trump has typically refrained from discussing her personal life, or delivering long public speeches throughout her time in the White House and during her husband’s first presidential run—making her appearance tonight a notable exception.
Later, Trump said: “Our diverse and storied history is what makes our country strong. And yet, we have so much to learn from one another.”
During Melania Trump’s speech, she also addressed the coronavirus pandemic—not just to praise her husband’s response to it (the United States continues to suffer one of the worst and least controlled outbreaks in the world, with around 1,000 deaths each day), but to acknowledge the toll it has taken on people. “My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one,” she said. “My prayers are with those who are ill or suffering. I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you are not alone.”
Towards the end of the speech, Trump—who previously spoke in support of her husband’s racist “birther” conspiracy theory against Barack Obama—referenced racial violence and called for protestors to remain peaceful. “Like all of you, I have reflected on the racial unrest in our country.… We are not proud of parts of our history.” She added: “I urge people to come together. Stop the violence and looting, though done in the name of justice. Never judge anyone based on the color of their skin.”
Rounding out the speech, she also discussed the opioid epidemic and heightened suicide rates, asking legislators to pass laws that will support individuals and families struggling with addiction. “Lives will be saved,” she said. “If you are struggling with addiction, please seek help. Your life is worth it.”
On Twitter, some noted that the First Lady expressed more compassion for suffering Americans during the pandemic than most other speakers at the Republican National Convention thus far. Other called out the fact that much of what Trump said did not seem to align with either the messages or the policies that her husband—whose most consistent re-election tactic is stoking division in the country—has relied on since he announced his initial run.