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Melania Trump: Fulfilling the first lady’s role her way

CBS News logo CBS News 23/01/2017
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Melania Trump tweeted from her official @flotus Twitter account for the first time over the weekend. She said she was “deeply honored to serve this wonderful country as first lady.”

The first lady was next to her husband when he assumed the presidency on Friday. But she will not be constantly at his side in Washington, at least for now, reports CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford.

The first lady of the United States is an unofficial ambassador, a voice of the American people. It’s an unpaid position that comes with a sizable implied responsibility.

As Melania Trump starts the week with her son, Barron, in New York City and not with President Trump in D.C., it’s clear she will do the role her way.

She has not made her first official statement as first lady yet, but on Inauguration Day, Melania Trump’s ensemble seemed to speak for her. Her powder-blue outfit, designed by American Ralph Lauren, looked like a throwback to one of her predecessors, Jacqueline Kennedy.

Mrs. Trump is only the second foreign-born first lady in U.S. history (John Quincy Adams’ wife, Louisa, had been born in England).

According to Ambassador Paolo Zampolli, who introduced President and Mrs. Trump nearly two decades ago, Melania is also one of the only first ladies that has ever spoken five languages.

“The class, the beauty, the intelligence, the caring for family, the values that she gives to the family, to her child, she would really bring it to the White House and make it something unique,” Zampolli told CBS News.

Through much of the presidential campaign, Melania remained on the sidelines. But thrust into the spotlight at the Republican National Convention, she became the target of social media roasting, after her speech included several passages mirroring Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC address.

© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Mrs. Trump later pledged to fight online bullying as first lady. “We have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other,” she said.

Just days before the election, Melania made it clear her first priority is still her son, 10-year old Barron Trump.  “I am a fulltime mother to our son, Barron, an incredible boy,” she said.

She has chosen to live with Barron in New York until at least the end of this school year.

Anita McBride, former chief of staff for first lady Laura Bush, says Michelle Obama grappled with the same dilemma. 

“As the president’s spouse, one of the most important things that they really have to do is be able to create a family life,” McBride told Crawford. “A sanctuary around the president that keeps family life as stable as possible, because this is an enormous amount of pressure on a family, and particularly when there are young children.”

Another critical role for the first lady: first advisor. Melania recently told “60 minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl she readily shares her opinions with Mr. Trump, even when it comes to her husband’s tweets. “Well, sometimes it got him in trouble,” Melania said. “But it helped a lot as well. He had unbelievable following.”

“So you never say to him, ‘Come on’?” Stahl asked.

“I did.”

“She does,” Mr. Trump confirmed.

“You know, of course, I did many times, from the beginning of the campaign.”

“Does he listen to you?” Stahl asked.

“Sometimes he listens.”

For her role at the White House, Melania Trump says she’s going to stay true to herself.

As she told “60 Minutes,” “I’m very strong and tough and confident. And I will listen myself and I will do what is right and what feels to my heart.”

Among all of the other celebrations this past weekend, the first couple celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary.

The role of the first lady has changed dramatically, and only time will tell how Melania will leave her mark on the White House.


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