The Things We’re NOT Talking About From Melania Trump’s Speech

CLEVELAND — Melania Trump loves her husband — and she thinks you should, too. That was the prevailing theme of the could-be first lady's prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention on Monday — the first night of a four-day gathering that is expected to end with her husband officially winning his party's presidential nomination. The former model took to the stage shortly after 10 p.m. to introduce herself to the nation and highlight a softer, more personal side of her larger-than-life and sometimes brash husband. She described him as "intensely loyal," "tough when he has to be," and "kind and fair and caring.” “As citizens of this great nation, it is kindness, love and compassion for each other that will bring us together and keep us together," she said. “These are the values my husband and I will bring to the White House." Melania is a 46-year-old former model from Slovenia who has been married to the businessman-turned-reality-star-turned-politician for more than a decade. But she is far more reserved than her husband. The short speech marked her most high-profile appearance on the campaign trail to date. But her primetime performance was put under the microscope nearly as soon as it was completed, as Twitter users and journalists began pointing out that one section on her upbringing and values contained nearly identical wording and phrasing to Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech. Her husband's campaign appeared to stand by the speech Tuesday, issuing a statement saying writers took "fragments that reflected her own thinking" to put together a "beautiful speech." Trump had introduced his wife ahead of her speech, entering the stage in dramatic fashion to the song We Are The Champions before declaring "we're going to win — we're going to win so big" and calling Melania as an "amazing mother, an incredible woman." In addition to sharing her own backstory as an immigrant who found fame and success as a fashion model, Melania's remarks sought to counter perceptions that her husband is intolerant and uncaring. She cited the "great deal of love" in the family and his ability to work with people of many faiths and nationalities. And she said "intends to represent all," including Muslims and Hispanics — groups that have been alienated by some of Trump's policies and rhetoric on the campaign trail.

If you want someone to fight for you and your country, I can assure you, he's the guy.

Melania Trump
The speech, which clocked in at less than 15 minutes, also featured a glimmer of her husband's signature confidence. She said that when it comes to her husband, there is "no room for small thinking, no room for small results — Donald gets things done." "If you want someone to fight for you and your country, I can assure you, he's the guy" she said. "He will never, ever give up, and most importantly, he will never let you down." Melania is the first of several members of the Trump family set to take the stage this week. While she is certainly recognizable to much of the public — as an international model, she appeared in top-tier fashion campaigns and national advertising campaigns — her private nature leaves much to be discovered by the American people. She opened up about some of that, including her own upbringing and family, during her remarks on Monday. Ahead four key things to know about Melania Trump:

She's an immigrant

Melania, born Melanija Knavs, grew up in communist Yugoslavia — a country nestled between Italy and Croatia that is now Slovenia. In her speech, she praised her parents for giving her a strong upbringing and instilling in her the values of hard work and compassion. She immigrated to the United States about 20 years ago and later became an American citizen. Melania has cited the journey she went through to become a U.S. citizen in defending her husband's own stance on immigration. "I never thought to stay here without papers. I had a visa, I traveled every few months back to the country to Slovenia to stamp the visa," she told MSNBC earlier this year. "I came back, I applied for the green card, I applied for the citizenship later on after many years of green card. So I went by system, I went by the law. And you should do that, you should not just say let me stay here and whatever happens, happens.” The last first lady who was born abroad was Louisa Adams, whose husband John Quincy Adams was elected in 1825, as The Washington Post notes.
Photo:Christopher Gregory/ Getty Images.
The Trump family at Donald Trump's campaign announcement in 2015: Left to right: Eric Trump, Lara Yunaska Trump, Donald Trump, Barron Trump, Melania Trump, Vanessa Haydon Trump, Kai Madison Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Donald John Trump III, and Ivanka Trump.

Modeling opened major doors

Melania began modeling in her teens— and her career quickly took off. Soon after, she was working in Paris and Milan. She's appeared on the cover of Harpers Bazaar and Vogue, according to her website biography, and in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. That career also led her to her husband, who she met at a Fashion Week party in New York in the 1990s. As the story goes, Trump's initial attempts to get her number were a bust (he had come to the party with a date), but she eventually agreed to go out with him. They married in 2005 and have a 10-year-old son, Barron. She's cited separate bathrooms and TiVo as secrets to enjoying a long and happy marriage. Melania has expanded her portfolio to include business ventures of her own since marrying Trump. Those include her own jewelry and watch collections and skincare lines.

We must do our best to make sure every child can live in comfort and security with the best possible education.

Melania Trump

She stays out of the spotlight

Unlike her husband, Melania is famously press-shy. she rarely grants interviews and has been absent from the stage at some major campaign events, including last week's vice presidential announcement. After Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015, Melania's first public appearance at a campaign rally wasn't until in November, according to The Associated Press. "Isn't he the best?" she said at the time. "He will be the best president ever. We love you!" Since then, the could-be first lady has waded into the public spotlight with a number of high-profile interviews and appearances on the campaign trail in recent months. In those interviews, Melania has come to her husband's defense on everything from his statements about women — she says he "treats women equal" — to criticisms of his proposals to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and ban Muslims from entering the country. But she's largely refrained from expressing her own political views — an approach she's hinted is intentional. “Those policies are my husband’s job,” she said in a GQ interview. “Yes, I have opinions of course, but I’m not going public."

She'd set several firsts as first lady

A first lady Melania Trump would make history on several fronts, according to historians and reports. She'd be the first non-native English speaker in the role, as USA Today notes (she speaks at least five languages). While America has elected a divorced president before in Ronald Reagan, Trump would be the first commander-in-chief with three marriages under his belt, making her the first third wife to inhabit the East Wing. And while she wouldn't be the first first lady with a background in fashion — The Associated Press notes that both Pat Nixon and Betty Ford had modeling pasts — she's likely the first to fit the modern definition of supermodel. Trump's inner circle have been quick to paint Melania as a strong asset to the campaign. Roger Stone, a longtime former adviser and friend of the couple, has previously said she “provides great balance," praising both her intelligence and presence. “She would be the most glamorous first lady since Jackie Kennedy," he said. Those accolades aside, Melania hadn't previously indicated much about how she would use the role, which has grown in prominence and influence in recent administrations. Michelle Obama, for example, has highlighted fitness and global education for girls. In her remarks on Monday, she gave a brief preview of what to expect. "If I’m honored to serve as first lady, I will use that wonderful privilege to try to help people in this country who need it the most," she said. At the top of that list, she said, is helping women and children. “We must do our best to make sure every child can live in comfort and security with the best possible education," she said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a reference to plagiarism allegations against Melania Trump.

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