Melania Trump Unveils Her Policy Goals In Traditional First-Lady Style Melania Trump often stays on the sidelines. But Monday she outlined her initiative focused on children — at a moment when her husband is under intense scrutiny.

In Traditional First-Lady Style, Melania Trump Unveils 'Be Best' Initiative

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Melania Trump takes the spotlight today. As first lady, she has been seen more often than heard. Last year, she did talk about her job on CNN.


MELANIA TRUMP: It's a very exciting life. And it's a lot of things that you need to take care of or a lot of responsibilities, and it's part of being the first lady.

INSKEEP: One of those responsibilities - for the first lady - traditionally has been choosing some cause to highlight, which Melania Trump now unveils. She's doing so at a moment of intense scrutiny of her spouse. NPR's Sarah McCammon reports.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Even before she became first lady, Melania Trump waded into what might seem like surprising territory for the wife of Donald Trump.


TRUMP: Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers.

MCCAMMON: During that campaign speech in Pennsylvania just days before the 2016 election, Melania Trump talked about the downsides of the Internet, especially for kids who are bullied and mocked online. The irony was hard to miss, as she acknowledged at a White House forum this March.


TRUMP: I'm well aware that people are skeptical of me discussing this topic, but it will not stop me from doing what I know is right.

MCCAMMON: Social media and its effect on children will be one part of Trump's agenda, according to her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham. She tells NPR there are many issues facing children today, and the first lady's initiatives will try to help them handle those challenges. Grisham says Trump will continue to focus on subjects she's addressed in the past. In a speech to the United Nations last September, she talked about several issues affecting children, including bullying, poverty and addiction. Last October, she traveled to West Virginia where she visited a treatment center for infants exposed to opioids. Here she is at a White House event on opioids later that month.


TRUMP: As many of you know, addiction affects children in many different ways. And I have recently taken a larger interest in what I can do to help fight this epidemic.


MCCAMMON: Presidents' wives have often found themselves under a harsh spotlight. Speaking in 2013, then first lady Michelle Obama acknowledged the unwanted attention on her appearance from her shoes to her bangs. But she said despite that, being first lady gave her a big platform.


MICHELLE OBAMA: But we take our bangs...


OBAMA: ...And we stand in front of important things that the world needs to see.

MCCAMMON: These days, though, much of the attention on the White House has focused on legal questions surrounding President Trump's alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels. He's denied those allegations. Even so, Melania Trump is pressing forward with her plans almost as if nothing has happened. Myra Gutin is a historian of American first ladies at Rider University in New Jersey. She says some presidents' wives would've been put off by the controversies swirling around the White House.

MYRA GUTIN: But she seems to sort of roll with whatever occurs. And the fact that she's going to get this initiative rolled out and finally moving seems to say to me that she's going to be focused on the good that she can accomplish while she's in the White House.

MCCAMMON: Gutin says first ladies are more popular than their spouses, which could give Melania Trump a chance to make progress on her goals regardless of what her husband is doing. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Washington.


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