Those attending Melania Trump’s speech in the Rose Garden Tuesday night were not required to get tested for coronavirus a report revealed Wednesday.
A person who attended the speech said guests were asked typical screening questions on the RSVP form, but told CNN that no coronavirus tests or temperature checks were done when they arrived at the White House.
First lady Melania Trump’s speech was the first in-person remarks with an audience at the Republican National Convention – it appears there were around 100 attendees seated in chairs in the newly-renovated Rose Garden.
Melania’s Chief of Staff Stephanie Grisham confirmed to CNN that most guests ‘in the last five or six rows’ were not tested.
She did however, claim Wednesday morning to CNN that anyone who came in close contact with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who were seated next to each other in the front row for the remarks, were administered a test for COVID-19 ahead of the speech.
Grisham said this included audience members ‘in the rows near the president and vice president,’ senior aides, staffers and the first lady’s parents.
Melania Trump painted her husband’s weaknesses as strengths when she argued for President Trump’s bid for a second term in her speech the second night of the Republican Convention.
While the remarks were intended to appeal to female voters, she also spoke at length on race and coronavirus, setting a strikingly different tone from her husband.
Most of those attending the Rose Garden event did not wear masks, and while seats were spaced apart, the gaps were nowhere near six-feet in distance.
Attendees included Trump, Pence, second lady Karen Pence, members of Trump’s Cabinet and Melania’s parents, among others.
Washington, DC coronavirus mandates currently prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people.
‘We contracted with a coronavirus adviser and all suggested protocols were followed,’ Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign communications director, told CNN.
Melania painted herself as a wife and a mother during her 26-minute remarks, which outlined the reasons women should vote for her husband in November and addressed the areas where female voters rate him as weak – the coronavirus pandemic and race relations.
And unusually she directly commented on unfolding events, as violence flared for a second night in Kenosha, WI, in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed after being shot seven times in the back.
‘I urge people to come together in a civil manner so we can work and live up to our standard American ideals. I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice,’ she said.
Unlike Trump, she said of racial division: ‘Like many of you, I have reflected on the racial unrest in our country. We are not proud of parts of our history.’
That set a tonal contrast to her husband, who clapped from the front row of the Rose Garden as she spoke, with her parents just behind him.
And she paid explicit tribute to the dead of the coronavirus pandemic – never using his ‘China virus’ phrase’ – saying she mourned with those left behind.
Her speech was meant to smooth away her husband’s rough edges even as she was careful to stay out of the political arena. It came on a night when Republicans tried to set a positive tone and lay claim to optimism, with Trump pardoning a black bank robber and swearing in five new Americans, both in the White House, while Mike Pence presented a video from Abraham Lincoln’s childhood home with ordinary voters paying tribute to Trump.
But it also saw Tiffany and Eric Trump channel their father with his younger daughter making a rare public appearance to rail against big tech and the media claiming they try to ‘mentally enslave’ people to control what views they hear.
The First Lady’s speech capped a night where the White House and executive power of the presidency took center stage at the second night of the Republican National Convention.
President Trump book-ended his convention with the trappings of the presidency, issuing a presidential pardon at the beginning, watching immigrants be made citizens in the middle, and ending on the South Lawn with the first lady speaking live from the Rose garden. At the same time Democrats cried foul saying he and his administration repeatedly broke the Hatch act, which bans using government property and employees to aid political campaigns.
Several administration officials participated in the convention on its second night, including economic adviser Larry Kudlow – the former CNBC host who introduced himself to people as ‘you know me from TV and radio’ – acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Vice President Mike Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence, outgoing senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross were spotted in the Rose Garden for Melania Trump’s remarks with several other guests – some who wore masks and some who did not.
Melania Trump was introduced in a flashy video that touted her Be Best campaign and was filled with images of her looking glamorous at state events and mom-like with her hugs to children. She walked down the colonnade to dramatic entrance music and a standing ovation, the camera moving ahead of her to trace her every move as she approached the Rose Garden.
Her speech – in contrast with other Trump family members who addressed the convention – showed the human side of the president.
She spoke of motherhood, even as she did not mention the Trumps’ 14-year-old son Barron by name, and said her husband was a man who won’t stop fighting for families.
‘To mothers and parents everywhere, you’re warriors. In my husband, you have a president who will not stop fighting for you and your family. I see how hard he works each day and night and despite the attacks from the media, he will not give up. In fact, if you tell him it cannot be done, he just worked harder,’ she said.
She also said the president was a man who supports her and has supported women by giving them high-ranking jobs in his administration.
‘Donald is a husband that supports me in all that I do. He has built an administration with unprecedented number of women in leadership roles and fostered an environment where the American people are always the priority. He welcomes different points of view and encourages thinking outside of the box,’ she said.
And she humbly asked voters to return the Trump family to the White House for another four years.
‘I know I speak for my husband and the family when we say we’re so grateful that you trusted him to be your president. We would be honored to serve this incredible country for four more years,’ she said.
Missing from her speech was any of the controversy from four years ago, when her address to delegates in Cleveland liberally borrowed words from an earlier Michelle Obama speech.
She took a gentle stab at the rough game of politics, saying she would not use her speech to attack any political enemies.
‘I don’t want to use this precious time attacking the other side. As we saw last week, that kind of talk only serves to divide the country further. I am here because we need my husband to be our president and commander-in-chief for four more years,’ she said.
She argued that his blunt statements, which are often criticized as cold, critical and unfeeling, are honesty and that it’s good for the country.
‘He’s what is best for our country. We know Donald Trump makes no secret about how he feels about things. Total honesty is what we as citizens deserve from our president. Whether you like it or not, you always know what he is thinking. That is because he’s an authentic person who loves this country and its people,’ she said. ‘He wants nothing more than for this country to prosper and he doesn’t waste time playing politics.’
She noted that in 2016, experts predicted Donald Trump would lose the presidential election and she touched on Trump’s current standing in the polls – where he trails Democratic rival Joe Biden – to warn people not to underestimate him again.
‘Almost four years ago, we went into Election Day underestimated. Despite what is being said again this year, I know just as you do that Americans will go to the polls and will vote on behalf of their families, our economy, our national security and our children’s future. To vote for those ideals is not a partisan vote. It’s a common sense vote. Because those are goals and hopes that we always believe in. I believe that we need my husband’s leadership now more than ever in order to bring us back once again to the greatest economy and the strongest country ever known,’ she said.
The first lady, who often lets her clothes speak for her, wore an olive green, military-style suit, and her signature stilettos. She spoke in the newly-renovated White House Rose Garden, with a bank of American flags behind her.
President Trump, who sat in the front row of the Rose Garden during her remarks, gave her a hug and a kiss on the check when she was done. The Trumps exited stage right, walking back into the White House together with a pause to stop and wave to the audience of supporters.
Melania Trump also bluntly endorsed her husband for president, pairing her endorsement with her recent exhibit of children’s art work in honor of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
‘I reflected on the impact of women’s voices in our nation’s story and how proud I would be to cast my vote again for Donald this November,’ she said.
She told the second night of the Republican National Convention to not listen to the media reports on her administration or attacks from his political enemies.
‘No matter the amount of negative or false media headlines or attacks from the other side, Donald Trump has not and will not lose focus on you,’ she said. ‘He loves this country.
‘He knows how to get things done. As you have learned over the past five years, he’s not a traditional politician. He doesn’t just speak words. He demands action and he gets results.’
She described her husband, one of the most controversial presidents in history, as someone who wants to make ‘real change’ and ‘make this country the best it can be.’
‘My husband knows how to make a real change,’ she said. ‘From the day that I met him, he has only wanted to make this country the best it can be. Fore many years, I watched him grow concerned and frustrated and I’m so proud to see the many things that he’s done in such a short time.
‘America is in his heart. So while at times we only see the worst of people and politics on the evening news, let’s remember how we come together in the most difficult times.’
She also addressed the racial tensions in America, which critics have accused President Trump of stoking the flames with his support for the Confederate flag, his defense of police actions against African Americans, and his threat to send in the military against Black Lives Matters demonstrators.
‘We must remember that today we are all one community comprised of many races, religions and ethnicities. Our diverse and storied history is what makes our country strong and yet we still have so much to learn from one another. With that in mind, I like to call on the citizens of this country to take a moment, pause and look at things from all perspective,’ she said.
She touched on President Trump’s criticism of the Black Lives Matters demonstrations that sprang up around the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death but enclosed her words around a call to arms.
‘I urge people to come together in a civil manner so we can work and live up to our standard American ideals. I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice. Never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin. Instead of steering things down, let’s reflect on our mistakes. Be proud of our evolution and look to our way forward. Every day let us remember that we’re one nation under god and we need to cherish one another,’ she said.
Trump was one of the few convention speakers to acknowledge the price paid by so many people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
‘I want to acknowledge the fact that since March, our lives have changed drastically. The invisible enemy, covid-19, swept across our beautiful country and impacted all of us,’ she said.
‘My deepest sympathy that goes out to everyone that has lost a loved one and my prayers with those that are ill or suffering. I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know that you’re not alone,’ she added.
She touted the work her husband’s administration has done to combat the disease and referred to him by his first name, in a bit of a personal touch.
‘My husband’s administration will not stop fighting until there is an effective treatment or vaccine available to everyone. Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic,’ she said.
‘I have been moved by the way Americans have come together in such an unfamiliar and often frightening situation. It is in times like this that we will look back and tell our grandchildren that through kindness and compassion, strength and determination, we were able to restore the promise of our future,’ she added.
She talked about her work over the past four years, including her Be Best campaign, her trip to Africa, her work on drug addiction and her meetings with members of the military and first responders.
She pledged to spend her next four years continuing her work on her Be Best campaign and her work with children.
‘In my next four years as first lady, I’ll continue to build upon Be Best and work with individual states to pass legislation to take care of our most vulnerable. I plan to continue the work I have started with children in foster care as well as the minority communities and tribal nations. I want to make sure children are protected and communities have their resources to combat drug addiction and child neglect or abuse,’ she said.
The first lady, who has taken on several renovation projects around the White House in addition to her work on the White House Rose Garden, said she would continue her restoration work.
‘I also look forward to continue my work to restore the people’s house, which is a lasting symbol of pride for our nation. I believe this iconic home needs to be cared for and preserved so it can be enjoyed by the people of this country and visitors from around the world for years to come. I’m passionate about this beautiful house, the grounds and all they represent,’ she said.
Melania Trump, who garnered a reputation for being reluctant to move to the White House, said she was honoured to serve as first lady.
‘The past 3 1/2 years have been unforgettable,’ she said. ‘There are no words to describe how honored, humbled and fortunate I am to serve our nation as your first lady. After many of the experiences I’ve had, I don’t know if I can fully explain how many people I take home with my in my heart each day. From brave soldiers who gave up so much so that we can be free to children of all circumstances who I have met around the world. Thank you for inspiring me. It is my greatest honor to serve you,’ she said.
‘The same goes for the families and the families of first responders who often watch their loved ones walk out the door not sure if or when they will come home,’ she added.
Additionally, Melania Trump told her personal story of becoming an American and her pride of living in the White House in a rare, personal glimpse into the life of the private first lady.
But she pivoted to the personal, talking about growing up in Slovenia and her dream of moving to the United States.
‘Growing up as a young child in Slovenia, which was under communist rule at the time, I always heard about an amazing place called America. A land that stood for freedom and opportunity. As I grew older, it became my goal to move to the united States and follow my dream working in the fashion industry,’ the former model said.
She also paid tribute to her parents – Viktor And Amalija Knavs – and thanked them for their support. The Knavs live near Washington D.C. and often help care for Barron, the Trump’s 14 year old son.
‘My parents worked very hard to ensure our family could not only leave and prosper in America, but also contribute to a nation that allows for people to arrive with a dream and make a reality. I want to take a moment to thank my mother and father for all they have done for our family. It is because of you that I’m standing here today,’ Trump said.
And she talked about her path to American citizenship.
‘I arrived in the United States when I was 26 years old. Living and working in the land of opportunity was a dream come true. I wanted more. I wanted to be a citizen. After ten years of paperwork and patience, I studied for the test in 2006 and became an American citizen,’ she said.
‘It is still one of the proudest moments in my life because with hard work and determination, I was able to achieve my own American dream. As an immigrant and a very independent woman, I understand what a privilege it is to live here and to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities that we have. As first lady, I have been fortunate to see the American dream come true over and over again,’ she said.
Ahead of the first lady’s remarks were a hodge podge of speakers and topics: Tiffany Trump attacked the media and big tech for ‘keeping people enslaved,’ Eric Trump claimed his father has put people back to work, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touted President Trump’s work overseas.
Vice President Mike Pence starred in a video about school choice – filmed in front of a cabin Abraham Lincoln lived in in Indiana.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf swore in a group of immigrants as American citizens, a ceremony President Trump joined in a dramatic show of executive power. Taking place in the White House, two Marines in dress uniform opened a door so Trump could come out to ‘Hail to the Chief’ to witness the swearing in.
Trump offered another show of executive power in the opening of the second night of his convention, issuing a pardon to convicted bank robber Jon Ponder.
Women had a role – the campaign showed a video that highlighted the women working in the Trump administration and campaign, including outgoing senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and a series of White House spokespeople including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Stephanie Grisham and Kayleigh McEnany.
There was a graphic account of abortion from anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson, who had worked for Planned Parenthood, a prayer from Billy Graham’s granddaughter, Jane Graham Lynch, and Covington Catholic teenager Nick Sandmann put on the MAGA hat garnered him attention in a stand off with a Native American during a protest last year and gave a speech were he railed against the cancel culture.
Tuesday night’s speech is meant to serve as a triple fold for the first lady: make the case for President Donald Trump’s second term, shore up his declining support among women voters, and bring redemption from her 2016 address, which liberally borrowed from a previous Michelle Obama speech.
And she seemed to avoid any controversy in her remarks, which she has worked on for weeks. Her chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, told MSNBC earlier Tuesday that the words would be ‘authentic.’
‘We’ve been working really hard the last three weeks. I can tell you that every word in this speech is from her. It’s very authentic, and it’s going to come from the heart.’ she said.
As one of the most prominent women in the administration, and someone with higher approval ratings than her husband, Melania Trump can help the president capture the key women voting bloc.
And her speech could be her most prominent campaign moment this year. Never a huge fan of the campaign trail to begin with – she made only a handful of appearances for her husband in 2016 – the first lady’s office has announced no plans for her this fall.
Melania Trump was scheduled to host two fundraisers – one in California and one in Mar-a-Lago – before the cornavirus pandemic struck and the virus upended those plans.
But, unlike first daughter Ivanka Trump or the other adult Trump children, the first lady has made no campaign zoom calls or online appearances to tout her husband’s re-election.
And her low profile comes as 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 president, in the 2016 election, won white women without a college degree by 27 per cent. And he won suburban voters by 4 points.
Tuesday also offered the first lady a second chance to address the party faithful after a plagiarism scandal at the 2016 Republican National Convention turned her big night into a political controversy.
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, eventually, a staffer for the Trump Organization took the blame for the mishap.
The first lady’s remarks were made in the Rose Garden, whose renovations she oversaw were revealed on Saturday. It was a contrast in setting from the other speeches of the evening, most of which took place in the Andrew Mellon Auditorium, a few blocks from the White House.
The garden’s renovations were paid for by private donations – not taxpayers – but the East Wing declined to release the donors’ name, calling it a private matter.
‘Gardens are symbols of growth and hope. We celebrate this garden in the hope that future generations will not only enjoy – but also draw inspiration and strength – from this space where so much of our history has been shared,’ Trump said at the reception of her remodel.
The newly-renovated garden conforms with the first lady’s personal aesthetic: clean lines, well structured, and soft, neutral colors. But others took to social media to bash the new design as ‘cold, colorless and boring,’ claiming it looks like ‘a cemetery.’
The first lady closed out a night of family speeches, including Tiffany Trump, the youngest daughter of the president who recently graduated from Georgetown Law School, and Eric Trump, the president’s son.
Wednesday night will see Vice President Mike Pence take center stage when he speaks to the convention from Fort McHenry in Baltimore. Lara Trump will also speak as will outgoing White House adviser Kellyanne Conway.
First daughter Tiffany Trump made a rare appearance Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention and railed against the media, the tech giants and the education system suggesting they keep the American people ‘mentally enslaved.’
‘People must recognize that our thoughts, opinions, and even the choice of who we vote for are being manipulated and invisibly coerced by the media and tech giants,’ the 26-year-old Georgetown Law Center graduate said.
She said that in the academic arena, students with opposing viewpoints are ‘too afraid to speak,’ while the system promotes ‘groupthink.’
The speech was much more mature than the one she delivered four years ago in Cleveland, as she gushed about the notes the now-president would write on her report cards.
‘Some dating back to kindergarten,’ she said. ‘Because I like to look back and see the sweet notes he wrote on each and every one of them.’
She added that President Donald Trump ‘has never done anything halfway – least of all as a parent.’
This year’s speech was likely meant to be a wake-up call to fellow millennials.
‘As a recent graduate, I can relate to so many of you who might be looking for a job. My father built a thriving economy once, and believe me, he will do it again,’ she said.
‘This election I urge each and every one of you to transcend political boundaries,’ she continued, adding, ‘I urge you to make your judgement based on results and not rhetoric.’
While not saying it specifically, she placed the blame of her father unpopularity among some segments of the population – including many of her peers – squarely on the media.
‘Rather than allowing Americans the right to form our own beliefs, this misinformation system keeps people mentally enslaved to the ideas they deem correct,’ she said. ‘This has fostered unnecessary fear and divisiveness amongst us.’
‘Why are so many in the media, in technology, even in our own government, so invested in promoting a biased and fabricated view?’ she continued. ‘Ask yourselves why are we prevented from seeing certain information? Why is one viewpoint promoted while others are hidden?’
‘The answer is control – and because division and controversy breeds profit,’ she said.
Tiffany Trump said the ‘uncensored truth’ about what Trump supporters believe include equality of opportunity, freedom of thought and expression and also school choice.
Echoing similar comments she made four years ago on the RNC stage she added, ‘My father does not run away from challenges – even in the face of outright hatred.’
Tiffany Trump then took on masks – but not the ones to be used to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
‘I encourage you to see beyond the facade that so many other politicians employ, they mask themselves in disguises of decency as they try to pressure us to mask our own identities and beliefs,’ she said.
‘My father is the only person to challenge the establishment, the entrenched bureaucracy, big pharma, and media monopolies to ensure that American’s constitutional freedoms are upheld, and that justice and truth prevail,’ she touted.