Donald Trump’s support has dropped with female voters and those numbers have only continued to fall in response to his handling of coronavirus.
Cue the First Lady.
In her speech Melania Trump addressed the issue of the pandemic head on – one of the very few people to do so at the Republican convention. She grasped the nettle in a way no one else has.
“I want to acknowledge the fact that since March, our lives have changed drastically. The invisible enemy, COVID-19, swept across our beautiful country and impacted all of us,” she said.
“My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one and my prayers are with those who are ill or suffering. I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you are not alone.”
Four years ago Melania Trump’s first convention speech was overshadowed by a plagiarism scandal as she repeated word for word some of Michelle Obama’s convention speech made eight years before.
The Trump campaign acknowledged an extract had been copied from Mrs Obama’s speech and claimed it was an innocent mistake by a speech writer.
This time Melania Trump’s chief of staff said her speech was not vetted by anyone in the White House – that every word came from her.
It felt intelligent and touched on many difficult realities facing the country that have been deafening in their absence from other speakers.
From racism to opioid addiction, to a rising suicide rate. It was a powerful show.
At times it felt very personal too. She reflected on growing up in Slovenia and thanked her parents: “It is because of you that I am standing here today.”
Where she was standing was perhaps the only controversial part of her speech – a podium in the White House rose garden.
Donald Trump has blurred the lines between the presidency and campaigning by hosting the Republican Convention from the White House.
In the second night of events the rules he was bending seemed to be disregarded entirely as he offered a presidential pardon to a bank robber and presided over a naturalisation ceremony where five people were made American citizens.
All in the backdrop of the White House.
In keeping with the controversial theme, Mike Pompeo delivered a speech from Jerusalem on an official State Department trip.
Secretaries of State don’t usually participate in political addresses at party conventions and speaking against the backdrop of the “Old City” has already prompted an investigation from House Democrats.
It was left to his wife to offer a less controversial address to the nation. Her unequivocal call for her husband’s re-election may offer a welcome boost to his campaign.
Though any bounce could be short lived with a bombshell new book from one of Melania’s former advisers due to be published in a week’s time.
:: Listen to Divided States on Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Spreaker
Reports suggest the account by her former confidant Stephanie Wolkoff includes details of secret recordings of the First Lady making derogatory remarks about her husband and his eldest daughter Ivanka.
This would be a first insight into her views behind closed doors.
We rarely hear from Melania Trump.
Tonight we got the flawless public performance from a First Lady fighting for her husband’s re-election.