BERWYN, United States (AFP) — Melania Trump, the Slovenian-born former model who could become America’s first foreign-born first lady in two centuries, appealed to her husband’s soft side in the battleground state of Pennsylvania Thursday.
Dressed in a filmy pink blouse and white skirt, it was the 46-year-old’s first solo campaign appearance — the third wife of Donald Trump she is a full-time mother to the mogul’s youngest child, Barron.
“He will make a fantastic president,” Melania told voters in Berwyn, an area outside Philadelphia where Trump dipped in the polls over vulgar remarks about groping women and after women accused him of sexual impropriety.
Her husband, with whom she lives in opulence, was running to improve the lives of suffering workers and struggling parents, she said.
“Every time my husband learned of a factory closing in Ohio or North Carolina or here in Pennsylvania I saw him get very upset,” she said, reeling off three vital swing states in the November 8 ballot.
“He certainly knows how to shake things up, doesn’t he?” she said in a remark that opponents might think an understatement after his inflammatory campaign insulting women, Mexicans, Muslims and the handicapped.
“Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough,” she added in what could have been another shot across the bow for her husband’s insult-heavy campaign.
The model and entrepreneur, who formerly worked in Milan and Paris, said it would be an “honor and privilege” to serve as first lady, saying she would like advocate against Internet bullying and help women in poverty.
She spoke of her “beautiful” childhood in small-town Slovenia, then under communist rule, and evoked the might that America once projected overseas.
“We always knew about the incredible place called America,” she said, calling the presidency of Republican hero Ronald Reagan “morning around the world.”
As befits the wife of a man campaigning against illegal immigration, she said becoming a citizen had been “the greatest privilege in the world.”
Pennsylvania is a crucial state for her Republican husband, where Hillary Clinton holds an average 3.4 percent lead according to RealClearPolitics.
Although rarely in the spotlight, it has been a turbulent campaign for Melania who ignited a plagiarism row with her speech at the Republican National Convention in July that cribbed passages from Michelle Obama.
A Trump staffer apologized and to Melania’s embarrassment her husband cracked a joke about the incident at a white-tie dinner in New York last month.
She was also forced to deny working illegally, had racy photographs from her modeling days published in a tabloid and deleted her professional website over wording about her education.
Her speech came after Trump appeared to surprise his wife in a television interview by saying that she would give two or three speeches.
“We’ll see about that,” campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN on Wednesday when asked if she would do more.
Melania would be America’s first foreign-born first lady in nearly two centuries since Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, who was president from 1825-1829. Adams was born in England.