Melania Trump will give her address to the Republican National Convention next Tuesday night from the White House Rose Garden she ordered renovated.
The first lady will join President Donald Trump in speaking from the executive residence, a decision that has raised questions about the appropriateness of using the mansion for political purposes. The president address the GOP gathering on Thursday evening from the South Lawn.
Melania Trump has overseen a refurbishment of the Rose Garden, paid for by private donations. The new design could be unveiled this week.
The first lady’s plan has the garden returning to its roots – how it looked when it was designed by Rachel Lambert ‘Bunny’ Mellon at the direction of President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Melania Trump often cites Jackie Kennedy as her inspiration for first lady.
‘Our country has seen difficult times before, but the White House and the Rose Garden have always stood as a symbol of our strength, resilience and continuity,’ Melania Trump said last month when the redesign was announced.
The update – which has rendered the garden unusable the past few weeks – included electrical upgrades for TV appearances, a new walkway and new flowers and shrubs.
The full programming for the Republican National Convention, which begins Monday, has not been officially announced. Officials were left scrambling to redo the program after plans for an in-person convention in Charlotte and then Jacksonville had to be scrapped over concerns about the coronavirus.
The first lady has been laying low most of August, spending time at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminister, New Jersey. She returned to the White House with the president and their son Barron on Sunday.
On Tuesday, she joined the president in a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. She did not speak at the event in the Blue Room of the White House but wore a white suit in honor of the suffragettes, who adopted white as their color.
For Melania Trump, next Tuesday will offer her a second chance to address the party faithful after her 2016 address was revealed to have borrowed liberally from a Michelle Obama speech.
A passage in Trump’s speech in Cleveland four years ago closely mirrored a portion of Obama’s address to the Democratic National Convention in 2008, borrowing word-for-word passages in some cases and echoing Obama’s themes.
The incident caused an uproar and, as it happened on the first day of the convention, became the main topic of much of the rest of that week.
Trump made few appearances on the campaign trail after it occurred and it’s unclear how much she will campaign for her husband’s re-election this fall.
But the 2016 speech was the country’s first time to hear from Melania Trump in an extended format as she rarely made statements on the campaign trail when she did appear with her husband.
Sean Spicer, who, in 2016, was with the Republican National Committee, famously invoked a ‘My Little Pony’ of Trump.
‘Melania Trump said, ‘the strength of your dreams and willingness to work for them.’ Twilight Sparkle from ‘My Little Pony’ said, ‘This is your dream. Anything you can do in your dreams, you can do now,” Spicer told CNN at the time.
The Trump campaign released a statement acknowledging the similarities but did not address the charges of plagiarism.
‘In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking. Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success,’ the campaign said.
Eventually staffer Meredith McIver accepted blame for the mishap.
In her statement, McIver said Melania Trump ‘always liked’ Obama and read passages from the 2008 speech to McIver, who jotted them down and later added them the speech.
‘This was my mistake and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs. Obama. No harm was meant,’ McIver said in a statement.
She said she offered to resign but the Trumps refused to accept.