First lady Melania Trump will unveil her long-awaited official platform during a press conference Monday in the White House’s Rose Garden.
Modern first ladies traditionally select a platform that they promote and emphasize during their husband’s tenure in office.
After serving as first lady for almost 16 months, Mrs. Trump announced Sunday on Twitter that she’s chosen the platform she will champion and will reveal it to the American people in a speech.
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“Tomorrow is the day! Very excited to announce my initiatives. Tune in live at the @WhiteHouse at 3 PM!” she tweeted Sunday.
Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman, told CNN that Melania Trump will focus on “the overall well-being of children” — similar to topics chosen by previous first ladies — but with a “unique” twist.
Tomorrow is the day! Very excited to announce my initiatives. Tune in live at the @WhiteHouse at 3 PM!
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) May 6, 2018
“As has been evidenced by the many events Mrs. Trump has participated in during her time as first lady, her focus will be the overall well-being of children,” Grisham said. “Something unique, though: She has not narrowed her platform down to just one topic, as has been done in the past.”
“Mrs. Trump wishes to help the next generation by creating change through awareness on a variety of issues that affect children,” Grisham added.
Melania Trump waited longer than first ladies usually do before unveiling their chosen platforms. Although former first lady Michelle Obama revealed her program 11 months after her husband’s inauguration, former first lady Laura Bush waited roughly six months before launching hers.
But Mrs. Trump has given hints about what her platform would be over the past several months. “Whether it is drug addiction, bullying, poverty, disease, trafficking, illiteracy, or hunger, it is the children who are hit first and hardest in any country,” she said in September 2017 while hosting the spouses of the United Nations leaders for a luncheon.
Mrs. Trump also has made a point of visiting schools and children’s hospitals in both the U.S. and other countries. In April, she told 12 children she hosted, “I want to help children everywhere be their best, so with your help, we can achieve positive results.”
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Although she’s advocated for children and spoken out against bullying, many of her critics taunted her for doing so because of her husband’s propensity for mocking his critics verbally and on Twitter. Melania Trump addressed the criticism leveled against her when she spoke to tech company leaders in March about bullying and children’s issues.
“I am well aware that people are skeptical of me discussing this topic,” she admitted. “I have been criticized for my commitment to tackling this issue and I know that will continue. But it will not stop me from doing what I know is right.”
In preparation for her Monday announcement, Grisham told ABC News the first lady is “an independent woman who is doing what she feels is right for children. This should be celebrated, not criticized.”
Melania Trump’s decision to use her platform as first lady to advocate for children on a broad range of issues will expand upon other first ladies’ more narrowly tailored platforms on similar topics.
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Michelle Obama launched a public health campaign to fight childhood obesity in April 2011, called “Let’s Move!” She sought to solve “the problem of obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams” through her initiative. Her platform involved “creating a healthy start for children,” “providing healthy food in schools,” “improving access to healthy, affordable foods” and “increasing physical activity,” according to its website.
Laura Bush, a former librarian, promoted children’s literacy by launching the “Ready to Read, Ready to Learn” initiative. She also supported her husband’s “No Child Left Behind” act, signed into law in 2002. The act required public schools to conduct standardized testing annually if they received federal funding.
Hillary Clinton, wife of Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, promoted women’s and children’s issues, along with health care reform. Her husband appointed her to chair the Task Force on National Health Care Reform, and she promoted a form of universal health care coverage in 1993 called the Clinton health care plan — often panned by her political opponents as “Hillarycare.”
Barbara Bush promoted family literacy while serving as first lady, continuing in the platform she began while serving as second lady of the U.S. while her husband was vice president in the Ronald Reagan administration. Barbara Bush, who passed away in April, also developed the Florida-based Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
Nancy Reagan launched her “Just Say No” campaign in 1982 during the “War on Drugs” to promote drug abuse awareness. As first lady, Mrs. Reagan was particularly interested in deterring children and young adults from falling prey to recreational drug use.
Rosalynn Carter championed mental health awareness and served as the honorary chairperson of the President’s Commission on Mental Health in 1977 and 1978. She wanted more Americans to feel more comfortable talking about mental health issues and seeking help. She became only the second first lady ever to testify before Congress when she spoke on behalf of the Mental Health System Bill of 1980.
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