Melania Trump Strikes Rare Note of Compassion at Republican Convention

3 minute read

After several hours of outraged speeches and fevered anger at the Republican National Convention Monday night, presumptive candidate Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, used her speech to sound an unexpectedly calm and conciliatory note, calling for cooperation, unity, respect and love among “all Americans.”

“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, a comparatively placid figure in an elegant white dress. “These are the values Donald and I would bring to the White House.”

The former model and mother of 10-year-old Barron Trump has almost entirely avoided the political limelight thus far in the campaign. She has appeared only rarely on the campaign trail or in media interviews, and almost always in the company of the candidate. But in her first full-length speech on her own, she presented herself as a kindler, gentler counterpart to her often bombastic husband.

Read More: Watch Melania Trump’s Speech at the Republican Convention

In a nearly ten minute address, she extended an olive branch to the sixteen other Republican candidates in this year’s primary, saying they “deserve respect and gratitude from all of us,” repeatedly thanked Republican voters for their “kindness and support” and spoke at length about her husband’s gentler side.

“He is tough when he has to be, but he is also kind and fair and caring,” she said. “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.”

Donald Trump kisses hios wife Melania at the 2016 Republican National Convention on Monday, July 18, 2016, in Cleveland.
Donald Trump kisses his wife Melania at the 2016 Republican National Convention on Monday, July 18, 2016, in Cleveland.Landon Nordeman for TIME

Melania, who immigrated from Slovenia, also offered a gentler vision of her husband’s hardline positions on immigrants and Muslims. Where Donald Trump has called for deporting all illegal immigrants and banning Muslims from entering the country, Melania Trump used more inclusive language.

“Donald intend to represent all the people, not just some of the people,” she said. “That includes Christians and Jews and Muslims, and it includes Hispanics and African Americans and Asians, and the poor and middle class. Throughout his career Donald has successful worked with people of many faiths and with many nations.”

Melania, who became an American citizen in July 2006, called the experience “the greatest privilege on planet Earth.”

If her husband is elected, Melania would become the first foreign-born first lady since Louisa Adams, who was born in England and moved into the White House in 1825. If she finds herself in that role, Melania said, she would “help people in our country that need it the most: children and women” and promised to ensure that every child received “the best possible education.”

After her speech, Donald Trump strode onto the stage, beamed into the audience, and pointed happily at his wife as if to say, “Isn’t she great?”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Haley Sweetland Edwards / Cleveland at