‘Trump Can’t Change Her Mind’: Why First Lady Melania Remains Absent from Husband’s Poll Campaign
First lady Melania Trump -- in a historic break from precedent -- has yet to set foot on the campaign trail this year even as her husband, President Donald Trump, fights for votes, especially among suburban White women with whom she could hold appeal.
A source who knows the first lady told CNN Melania Trump is doing what she often does: whatever she feels like. "It is who she is," says the friend and former administration official of Trump's staying off the trail while other surrogates and family members tackle packed schedules in battleground states.
"She does what she wants, when she wants ... She can be a contrarian," another former White House staffer said.
The campaign has sought her presence. But with the election less than two weeks away and no scheduled events, it's unlikely the first lady will engage in any significant way. This stands in stark contrasts to nearly all modern first ladies, many of who served a critical role in humanizing their husbands to women voters.
Melania Trump is expected to accompany the President to Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday for the last presidential debate, according to the official schedule released by the White House on Wednesday.
The move marks a shift from Tuesday, when, citing an "abundance of caution" and a "lingering cough" after her bout with Covid-19, Trump backed out of a planned appearance with her husband to introduce him at a Pennsylvania rally.
It would have been the first lady's first large-scale, public campaign event since June 2019. The rally would have also marked the first time the public had seen the first lady since September 29 in Ohio, where she attended the first presidential debate.
Melania Trump has never been comfortable in the public eye and campaign travel is not something she enjoys, a source who has worked with the first lady said. Trump prefers to stay home and be present for her son, Barron.
A source familiar with the first lady's recuperation from Covid-19, which she was diagnosed with earlier this month, says Trump's voluntary downtime is due to her illness.
"I'm not sure why she's being criticized for taking care of herself and her son when they both tested positive for coronavirus," says a White House official.