Melania Trump on Monday revealed a new art exhibit tied to the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage ahead of her debut at the Republican National Convention.
And, in her remarks, she touted President Donald Trump’s work for women at a time his support among them is eroding.
‘Since taking office, my husband and this administration have taken historic measures to empower and support women in the United States – and around the world,’ she said.
‘Under our administration, the child tax credit has been doubled. American women, who comprise over half of the workforce, experienced their lowest rate of unemployment in over 65 years,’ she added. ‘In addition to these achievements, this administration has filled many of its senior positions with women.’
It was a rare, almost campaign-like moment from the first lady, who tends to focus her work on children’s issues and leave politics to the side.
She also encouraged everyone to vote – although she did not specify how they should vote. President Trump has railed against mail-in voting as causing election fraud – without offering any proof. Both the president and first lady vote by absentee ballot in Florida, which is their permanent residence.
‘We, as women, must continue using our greatest tool of empowerment – our voice. Now in 2020, the American woman’s voice is more important than ever. Our Nation is depending on each of you. I encourage you all to vote so that we may continue to build the brightest future for all of our children,’ the first lady said.
Melania Trump was touting her new project tied to the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which includes includes one piece of art work from each of the 50 states and U.S. territories tied to the women’s suffrage movement. It is available to be viewed online here.
The first lady walked among the exhibit to view the art and talk to the children who created it. About 30 children were present and all had received a COVID test before the event, an official with the East Wing said.
Some kids gave the first lady hugs. She posed for a group photo with them afterward.
And she told the parents that the kids ‘did a great job.’
Joining the first lady at the event were second lady Karen Pence, White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, the first lady’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza.
Announced in June, the ‘Building the Movement: America’s Youth Celebrate 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage’ initiative solicited drawings from children between grades 3 and 12 depicting imagery related to the suffrage movement.
Her remarks come ahead of her speech Tuesday night to the Republican National Convention.
‘The first lady’s speech is amazing. It’s the highlight of the week,’ outgoing White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters after the event on Monday.
President Trump, in the 2016 election, won white women without a college degree by 27 per cent. And he won suburban voters by 4 points.
But polling indicates Democratic nominee Joe Biden is closing the gap with women, in part because of the law marks they give President Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The poll numbers sparked some alarm among Republicans.
A YouGov poll out earlier this month found that 37 per cent of women approve of Trump while 57 per cent disapprove. Biden leads Trump overall in national polling on the race.
And a Washington Post-ABC poll out last month found women trusted Biden over Trump on questions of ‘crime and safety’ by a 23 points: 57 per cent to 34 per cent. Women also said they trusted Biden more on handling the coronavirus pandemic by 28 points.
Melania Trump, in the closing days of the 2016 election, held an event for women’s votes for her husband in Pennsylvania.
It’s unclear what her campaign role will be this cycle but she speaks at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night from her newly renovated White House Rose Garden.
She is the one of the most high-profile women in Trump’s administration, along with first daughter Ivanka Trump, who spent Monday traveling with her father to North Carolina and will introduce him on Thursday when he addresses the Republican National Convention from the White House’s South Lawn.
Kellyanne Conway, the senior adviser who helped run Trump’s 2016 campaign, is also one of the most visible women in the administration but announced on Sunday she would leave the White House at the end of the month.
The first lady was at the president’s side last week when he announced he was going to pardon Susan B. Anthony, a leader in the movement that gave women the right to vote, who was arrested for voting in 1872 at a time when only men were allowed to do so.
But some women criticized the president for his move, arguing Anthony did nothing wrong and should not be treated like a criminal.
‘I was deeply troubled to learn that Trump went ahead and treated her like a criminal,’ Kathy Hochul, the Democratic lieutenant governor of New York, said. ‘Susan B. Anthony was guilty of nothing.’
She called on Trump to rescind the pardon during remarks at the Susan B. Anthony House on Tuesday.
‘She was proud of her arrest to draw attention to the cause for women’s rights, and never paid her fine. Let her Rest in Peace,’ Hochul said. ‘I stopped a long time trying to figure out why he does what he does, but this was not to honor her. I don’t know why he did what he did ,but I assure you it was not with the best interest of the public at heart.’
The 19th Amendment states that ‘The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.’
Congress passed it in 1919, and the amendment was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920.