Melania Trump took to the campaign trail for the first time on Thursday, stumping for her husband in Pennsylvania and announcing the cause she would focus on if she were to become the first lady of the United States: cyberbullying. In a short speech that clocked in at just under 15 minutes, Trump described the harm that bullying, particularly on social media, can cause. “As we know, social media is now a centerpiece of all of our lives. It can be a useful tool for connection and communication,” she said. “But like anything that is powerful, it can have a bad side.” She spoke of the harm done to children when they are mocked or bullied on social media channels, saying that culture has gotten too rough, and calling internet bullying “unacceptable.”
“We have to find a better way to talk to each other, disagree with each other, to respect each other,” she said. “We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media.” First ladies traditionally choose a cause to advocate for — often, but not always, a humanizing social issue of the day. Current FLOTUS Michelle Obama chose healthy eating and nutrition as her platform, and Nancy Reagan’s campaign against youth drug abuse became famous for its slogan, “Just Say No.” However, Trump’s proposed issue is not without its irony. Donald Trump has been repeatedly accused of bullying on the campaign trail, from making misogynistic and insulting comments about women, to mocking a reporter’s disability. Only last week, The New York Times printed a story compiling almost 300 people, places, and things that Donald Trump had insulted on the social media platform Twitter. They include political opponents, but also celebrities, media representatives, and even entire countries.
The irony did not go unnoticed.
Besides her proposed platform, Trump also talked about her experience as an immigrant from Slovenia, describing hearing about then-President Ronald Reagan as a 10-year-old child in Slovenia. Trump also touted that when she came to the United States, she went through the immigration process legally, saying that she got a green card and then applied for citizenship in 2006. Her immigration status was previously the subject of speculation in a campaign where illegal immigration has been a central issue.