Me­la­nia grows into her first lady role

SHE HAS PRO­VIDED NEW CLUES ABOUT IS­SUES SHE PLANS TO TAKE UP AS WIFE OF THE US PRES­I­DENT

Gulf News - - AMERICAS -

t was a moment eight months in the mak­ing: Me­la­nia Trump bound­ing down the Wite House lawn to the veg­etable gar­den made fa­mous by her pre­de­ces­sor.

Clad in a red plaid shirt, her eyes ob­scured by dark sun­glasses, she greeted mem­bers of the lo­cal Boys and Girls Club who came to help her har­vest and plant new crops. One scep­ti­cally asked, “Are you Me­la­nia Trump?”

“Yes, I’m the first lady” came her cheer­ful re­ply. It in­cluded two words Mrs Trump has been us­ing more of­ten lately: first lady.

She says “my lot more, too.

As Me­la­nia be­comes more com­fort­able with her new role, she is speak­ing out about how she en­vi­sions us­ing that plat­form to help chil­dren. She’s go­ing be­yond cy­ber­bul­ly­ing, which she’d iden­ti­fied dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign as an is­sue that she would tackle if her hus­band be­came pres­i­dent. plat­form” a

Pub­lic ap­pear­ances

In a flurry of solo pub­lic ap­pear­ances from the United Na­tions to an in­ter­na­tional sports event in Canada to the White House in the past few weeks, Me­la­nia has pro­vided new clues about her plans in a role that has thrust her into a spot­light far dif­fer­ent from the bright lights she grew ac­cus­tomed to dur­ing her ca­reer as a fash­ion model.

She called on at­ten­dees at a UN lun­cheon last month to set good ex­am­ples for chil­dren. She in­vited ex­perts and peo­ple af­fected by drug ad­dic­tion and opi­oid abuse, in­clud­ing a re­cov­ered addict, to the White House for a lis­ten­ing ses­sion and told them she plans to “use my plat­form as first lady” to help as many kids as pos­si­ble.

Dur­ing a visit to storm­rav­aged Puerto Rico with her hus­band, Me­la­nia told Puerto Rico’s non-vot­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Congress that she was “pas­sion­ate” about try­ing to help more com­mu­ni­ties on the is­land and asked how she might be able to do that, ac­cord­ing to Rep. Jen­nifer Gon­za­lez-Colsn.

The first lady also took her first solo trip — to Canada — to cheer Amer­i­cans par­tic­i­pat­ing in an ath­letic com­pe­ti­tion for wounded ser­vice mem­bers and vet­er­ans.

And, on that sunny af­ter­noon in the gar­den that was the brain­child of for­mer first lady Michelle Obama, she en­cour­aged the chil­dren help­ing her to make healthy eat­ing a pri­or­ity.

“I’m a big be­liever in healthy eat­ing be­cause it re­flects on your mind and your body,” she said be­fore telling the group to “come with me and have some fun.”

She later pulled leeks from the ground and clipped an ar­ti­choke from a nearby plant. “I en­cour­age you to con­tinue and eat a lot of veg­eta­bles and fruits so you grow up healthy and take care of your­self . ... It’s very im­por­tant.”

Me­la­nia is a unique first lady: a na­tive of Slove­nia and

for­mer fash­ion model flu­ent in sev­eral lan­guages. But like her pre­de­ces­sors, she’s still go­ing through an ad­just­ment pe­riod.

She was rarely seen in the weeks af­ter the in­au­gu­ra­tion, and was usu­ally at Trump’s side when she did ap­pear in pub­lic. In an un­usual move for mod­ern first ladies, she and Bar­ron, the cou­ple’s now-11-year-old son, lived at the fam­ily’s Trump Tower pent­house in New York for sev­eral months af­ter the in­au­gu­ra­tion so he wouldn’t have to switch schools in the mid­dle of the year.

Join­ing Trump

They joined Trump at the White House in June, and Bar­ron started sixth grade at a pri­vate school in Mary­land af­ter Labour Day. “I still have a feel­ing she looks at this and says, ‘Am I re­ally in this po­si­tion?’” said Myra Gutin, a pro­fes­sor at Rider Univer­sity who writes about first ladies.

Oth­ers at­tribute the first lady’s more vis­i­ble, though still low, pro­file to her sat­is­fac­tion that her only child is OK af­ter the big move. “The more com­fort­able she be­comes in the po­si­tion, the more great work she’s go­ing to be able to do,” said Sam Nun­berg, a for­mer Trump cam­paign aide.

Me­la­nia is the most pop­u­lar Trump in the White House, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent CNN sur­vey.

AP

US First Lady Me­la­nia Trump talks to chil­dren as she vis­its the Necker hos­pi­tal in France. Me­la­nia ap­pears to be be­com­ing more at ease with her role as first lady of Amer­ica.

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