CLEVELAND, July 18 (UPI) — Melania Trump, introduced briefly by her husband, starred on the opening night of the Republican convention, speaking warmly of Donald Trump while offering her first major speech of the campaign.
The speech marks a coming out party of sorts for the candidate’s wife, who has done a handful of television interviews, but has only spoken briefly on the campaign trail and never to an audience anywhere close to as large as the millions watching on television across the country in prime time Monday night.
Donald Trump broke with tradition by addressing the convention prior to his acceptance speech. Though he only offered a two line introduction, his entrance had much of the flair that has defined his campaign to date. He stood in front of a white screen in silhouette as stage smoke puffed around him for several seconds, his trademark swoop of hair immediately recognizable.
He introduced Melania Trump as “an amazing wife, an incredible woman” and appeared again at the conclusion, kissing her on the cheek and offering congratulations on her address.
Melania Trump sought to portray her husband as a loving father and determined businessman whose love of country would bring all Americans together.
“Donald is intensely loyal to family, friends, employees, country,” she said. “There is a great deal of love in the Trump family. That is our bond and our strength.”
She also said his persistence in pursuing business deals was an indication of what kind of president he would be.
“No room for small thinking. No room for small results. Donald gets things done. Our country is underperforming and needs new leadership,” she said. “Everyone wants change. Donald is the only one who can deliver it. We should not be satisfied with stagnation.”
While offering herself as a personal testifier about her husband, Melania Trump was also introducing herself to an American public that has frequently seen the former fashion model and naturalized citizen at her husband’s side, but who has rarely been heard from during the campaign. Trump’s children, particularly his eldest daughter Ivanka, have turned into the family’s top surrogates to date.
Auditioning for the role of first lady, Melania Trump said she would bring a focus on issues pertaining to women and children to the White House.
“We need new programs to help the poor and opportunities to challenge the young,” she said. “You judge society by how it treats its citizens. We must do our best to ensure every child can live in comfort and security with the best possible education.”
Melania Trump was born in what was then the communist European nation of Slovenia who later moved to Milan, Italy, where she worked as a fashion model. She is a naturalized citizen who emigrated to New York City as a fashion model in the 1980s. She became a citizen in 1996.
She is Trump’s third wife and mother to his youngest child, Baron, their 10-year-old son.
In the line that drew the loudest applause from delegates, she pledged her husband would bring the country together.
“Donald intends to represent all the people not just some of the people,” she said. “That includes Christians and Jews and Muslims. It includes Hispanics and African-Americans and Asians and the poor and the middle class.”