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Former first lady Melania Trump stays out of the public eye as Donald Trump runs for president

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — After Melania Trump missed key events during her husband’s presidential bid earlier this year – from the kick-off of the 2024 elections in Iowa to that of Donald Trump Great Tuesday victory party – reporters asked the former first lady if she planned to hit the campaign trail. Her response: “Stay tuned.”

But since making that comment in March, after she and Donald Trump voted in the Florida primaries, Melania Trump has largely abstained from public appearances. With few exceptions, there have been a few April fundraisers and their son’s high school graduation.

Remarkably, the former first lady did not accompany the presumptive Republican presidential candidate on the days of his more than month-long hush money trial in New York. She wasn’t there last month guilty verdict or the next day for his remarks in Trump Tower. She also did not appear at a on June 14 78th birthday party organized for Trump by his fan club, or during one of the campaign rallies he has held in recent months.

Her absence during the trial and at other key moments is unusual, said Katherine Jellison, a history professor at Ohio University who studies first ladies. But Jellison said it may not come as a surprise, as Melania Trump seems reluctant to follow the traditional public role of a politician’s wife. As first lady, she also kept a low profile and did not regularly attend her husband’s losing 2020 presidential campaign.

“But everything the Trumps are doing seems to go against the boilerplate of how candidates and spouses behave,” Jellison said.

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Melania Trump’s behavior is a departure from the way other politicians relied on their spouses. Sometimes male politicians turn to their wives in an attempt to reach female voters. Candidates may also be accompanied by their spouses, to give voters a better idea of ​​what the candidate is like outside the political arena.

For example, during this year’s GOP primaries, Florida Governor Casey DeSantis, wife, traveled with him, gave interviews and formed a coalition called Mamas for DeSantis before suspending his bid for the nomination. Vivek Ramaswamy’s wife, Dr. Apoorva Ramaswamy, was also on the campaign trail and often appeared with their two young children to talk about the importance of family.

The Associated Press has contacted 15 people who recently participated in major fundraisers or at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. No one said they encountered Melania Trump on the property in Florida.

Her office did not respond to several requests for comment. Her only public statement recently came two days after the Republican Party of Florida announced to much fanfare that Barron Trump’s 18-year-old son had been selected as a state delegate to the Republican National Convention and her office. said he couldn’t make itwith reference to previous commitments.

Reporters at the New York courthouse during Trump’s trial repeatedly asked him, “Where is Melania?” but he never answered. Trump allies cited their son’s school calendar as the main reason for her absence, without denying that it was a delicate time for the family.

Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, was asked if there were any discussions about her accompanying him to court.

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“That wasn’t a discussion I wanted to have,” Blanche responded in a conversation with Miami attorney David Oscar Markus for his podcast “For The Defense.” “This was a difficult case because of the nature of the charges, the evidence that came in, the history and how long ago it happened.”

Some of the testimony focused on how Trump allegedly had sex with porn actor Stormy Daniels in July 2006, about four months after Melania Trump gave birth to Barron; Trump has denied Daniels’ claim. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen testified that Trump did not seem to care that the story of an encounter he wanted to bury would damage his marriage as much as it would damage his 2016 presidential ambitions.

But Hope Hicks, Trump’s 2016 campaign communications chief, testified that in 2016 Trump was concerned about how a story about Playboy model Karen MacDougal would be viewed by his wife and wanted her to make sure no newspapers were delivered to their home.

Melania Trump posted nothing on her social media accounts after her husband was convicted of 34 crimes. That contrasts with Trump’s eldest sons, who quickly condemned the verdict. Daughter Ivanka Trump posted on Instagram a photo of her as a toddler with a younger Trump and the message “I love you dad.” Tiffany Trump, his youngest daughter, accompanied him to the courthouse last month for the trial’s closing arguments.

“I think it’s very difficult for her,” Trump said of his wife in an interview with Fox News after the ruling. “I mean, she’s doing well. But you know, she has to read all this crap.

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Despite her absence from the campaign trail, Trump mentions her often and shares conversations between the two, showing supporters that she is still involved behind the scenes by providing feedback to the former president.

Larry Snowden, chairman of the fan group “Club 47,” said he last saw the former first lady at a gala in February hosted by the “Trumpettes,” a group of female supporters. He said he’s never had a one-on-one interaction with her, but that when he saw her there, she was “so charming.”

“She was so happy, she was smiling and helpful to anyone who wanted to come up and shake her hand or something,” Snowden said.

Snowden said he expects Melania Trump to show her face and make major speeches during the campaign, but that he also thinks the former president “will continue to be very protective of her.”

___

Gomez Licon reported from Miami. Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.

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