Melania Trump presented her husband in a much softer and gentler light in her first address to the nation on Monday night, attempting to counter the image that his is anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim.
The Slovenian-born former model has only spoken on her husband Donald Trump’s behalf only a handful of times throughout the campaign.
In her short – roughly 10 minutes – address, Mrs. Trump did not swell on the controversies that have surrounding this tumultuous campaign and insisting that his campaign would represent “Christians and Jews and Muslims, it includes Hispanics and African Americans and Asians, and the poor and the middle class.”
"He is tough when he has to be, but he is also kind and fair and caring," she said in a speech that was the main event on the first night of the Republican National Convention. "This kindness is not always noted, but it is there for all to see. That is one reason I fell in love with him to begin with."
Mrs. Trump, in a white dress with elbow-length sleeves ending in big puffy cuffs, spoke after an uncharacteristically brief introduction from her husband, who called her "my wife, an amazing mother, an incredible woman."
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The 46-year-old made clear her love for her husband, testifying to a softer side of the blustering real estate mogul the country knows and spoke of his love for family. And without dwelling on her own humble upbringing in an industrial town in what was then a part of communist Yugoslavia, she spoke of her family, her sister Ines, her "elegant and hard-working mother Amalia," and her father Viktor, who "instilled in me a passion for business and travel."
"From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say," Mrs. Trump said, adding that she has passed those values to the couple's 10-year-old son, Barron.
Mrs. Trump also gave a hint of what she might try to do as first lady.
"I will use that wonderful privilege to try to help people in our country who need it the most," she said, describing helping children and women as "one of the many causes dear to my heart."
After Monday’s speech, some republican delegates were gushing over her.
"I think she's going to be a great asset. She's just magnificent," said John Salm, a delegate from Virginia. "Honestly she reminds me of Jackie Kennedy."
"I think everybody fell in love with her tonight," said Deedee Kelly, a delegate from Omaha, Nebraska. "She seemed to talk from her heart, she really did."
However, Mrs. Trump’s speech also drew attention after the discovery that two passages of her remarks matched nearly word-for-word the speech that first lady Michelle Obama delivered in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention. The passages in question focused on lessons that Trump's wife says she learned from her parents and the relevance of their lessons in her experience as a mother. Mrs. Trump's address was otherwise distinct from the address that Mrs. Obama gave when then-Sen. Barack Obama was being nominated for president.
Trump's campaign had no immediate reaction when asked about the similarities in the two speeches. White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Monday evening.
If Trump were to be elected president, Mrs. Trump would be the only first lady who is the third wife of a president and the first to be born and raised in a communist nation. She wouldn't be the first model — Pat Nixon and Betty Ford both modeled, too. And Louisa Adams, who was born in England, was the first president's wife to be born in another country.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.