Americans have always fallen in love with first ladies who are young and attractive. Melania Trump, 46, is both.
If Donald Trump is elected president of the United States in November, his wife has all of the elements to be as popular on the national and international stage as a Jacqueline Kennedy or a Laura Bush.
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First ladies serve many purposes on both the public stage and behind the scenes. They typically poll higher than their husbands — and history has shown that those who poll extremely well can even help their husbands’ numbers and popularity.
The youngest first lady in history was Frances Cleveland. At just 21 years old, Frances Folsom married a 49-year-old bachelor president, Grover Cleveland. They are the only presidential couple ever to get married in the White House.
The Cleveland team immediately got to work using Frances’ image and popularity to help secure Cleveland a second (and non-consecutive) term in the White House. The Clevelands were the only couple to do this as well. Mrs. Cleveland’s image appeared on posters, ad campaigns, and every kind of souvenir imaginable. She was definitely a hot commodity — in fact, she was Jacqueline Kennedy before Jacqueline Kennedy.
In 2016, Melania Trump could do the same thing. She could become as much a part of the Trump campaign as Mamie Eisenhower was for her husband, Dwight D. Eisenhower, in 1952 and 1956.
Mrs. Trump is also smart. She speaks five languages: Slovenian, English, French, Serbian, and German. The only other first lady who knew more languages was Lou Hoover — Mrs. Hoover spoke seven, including Mandarin Chinese. She is confident and seemingly unflappable by the press. She has her own ideas and sticks to her convictions.
Melania Trump has dabbled in philanthropic endeavors, as well. She has worked with the Red Cross, and been involved with breast cancer awareness work. Causes like this play very well both nationally and internationally in the public eye, and thus would reflect well on her husband. She has even said in interviews that she would be a more traditional first lady, like Betty Ford or Jacqueline Kennedy.
And what of her nationality? Melania Trump would be only the country’s second foreign-born first lady. John Quincy Adams’ wife, Louisa Catherine Adams, was the first — born in London, England. Mrs. Trump was born in the war-torn Eastern European country of Slovenia, then part of Yugoslavia. This could also play very well for her. If Mrs. Trump were to take on international causes, such as refugee orphans or global women’s rights and freedoms — similar to a post-9/11 Laura Bush — this would push her popularity up even higher. She also supports her husband’s immigration policies, which could pull people in Washington and across the country over to his way of thinking.
She could even grease the skids of foreign relations with Vladimir Putin and the Russians, if she played her heritage correctly.
Melania Trump is a former model and fashion designer who is poised to grace the cover of almost every major magazine out there.
She is also the mother of a 10-year-old boy, Barron William Trump, the youngest of Donald Trump’s five children. The only thing that plays better than a young, attractive first lady in a first family is young children.
Melania Trump really does have it all when it comes to the elements that make a popular first lady.
And when we consider the alternative — Bill Clinton — who do you think visiting presidents and dignitaries would rather have showing their wives around Washington, D.C.? Melania or Bill?
Andrew Och, digital director at LifeZette, is the author of the new book,“Unusual for Their Time: On the Road with America’s First Ladies.”