First lady Melania Trump closed out night two of the Republican National Convention in a speech highlighting key themes of her husband’s reelection campaign.
She discussed the country’s opioid crisis, pleading with those struggling with addiction to seek help. She praised the nation’s military service members and first responders, who either fought in wars or handled major crises. She championed legal immigration, telling her own story of growing up in Slovenia and eventually becoming a naturalized American citizen. She criticized the media, a daily presidential target, and highlighted her Be Best initiative. And she promised that four more years of the Trump administration would focus on the plight of the American middle class.
“You are the backbone of this country. You’re the people who continue to make the United States of America what it is,” she said, speaking from the White House’s Rose Garden, which likely violates ethics laws, as sitting officials can’t use government property for political election purposes. “Just as you are fighting for your family, my husband, our families, and the people in this administration are here fighting for you.”
However, her speech may be most remembered for her words to the victims of the coronavirus and their families — evoking a sense of empathy for loss in the pandemic rarely heard at this year’s Republican convention. “My deepest sympathy goes out to all of you who have lost a loved one and my prayers are with those who are ill or suffering,” the first lady said. “I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you are not alone.”
Unlike four years ago, there was no obvious plagiarism in her remarks this time around. Instead, she remained on message and — perhaps most importantly — didn’t cause a controversy. Her remarks, then, aptly set the stage for her husband’s address on Thursday.
Read a rush transcript of her full speech below.
Good evening. It seems like just yesterday that we were at our first convention where my husband accepted the Republican nomination and then became our 45th president of the United States. The energy and enthusiasm for who should lead this nation, it is clear today as it was four years ago.
I know I speak for my husband and the entire family when I say we have not forgotten the incredible people who were willing to take a chance on the businessman who had never worked in politics. We know it was you who elected him to be commander in chief and we know it is you who will carry us through again. We were humbled by the incredible support then and we are still grateful today.
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. My deepest sympathy goes out to all of you who have 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.
My husband’s administration will not stop fighting until there is an effective treatment for vaccine available to everyone. Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic. I want to extend my gratitude to all of the health care professionals, frontline workers, and teachers, who stepped up in these difficult times. Despite the risks to yourself and your own families, you put our country first and my husband and I are grateful.
Americans have come together in such an unfamiliar and often frightening situation. It is in times like this that we will look back and tell our grandchildren that your kindness and compassion, strength and determination, we were able to store the promise of our future. Businesses stepped up and volunteers stepped in. People were eager to share ideas, resources, and support of all kinds with neighbors and strangers alike. It has been inspiring to see what the people of our great nation will do for one another, especially when we are at our most fragile.
Speaking of strength and determination, we recently celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment. Yesterday on the North Lawn of the White House, we built an exhibit dedicated to women’s suffrage. The exhibit called on children from across the country to send art honoring the meaning of this important time in women’s history.
When I was judging the entries, I reflected on the impact of women’s voices in our nation’s story and how proud I would be to cast my vote again for Donald this November. We must make sure that women are heard and that American dream continues to drive.
Growing up as a young child in Slovenia, we were under Communist rule at the time. I always heard about an amazing place called America, a land that stood for freedom and opportunity. As I grew older, it became my goal to move to the United States and follow my dream of working in the fashion industry.
My parents worked very hard to ensure our family could not only live and prosper in America, but also contribute to a nation that allows for people to arrive with a dream and make it reality. I want to take the moment to thank my mother and father for all they have done for our family. It is because of you that I am standing here today.
I arrived in the United States when I was 26 years old, living and working in the land of opportunity with a land come true, but I wanted more. I wanted to be a citizen. After 10 years of work, I studied for the test in 2006 and became an American citizen. It is still one of the proudest moments in my life, because with hard work and determination, I was able to achieve my own American dream.
As an immigrant and a very independent woman, I understand what a privilege it is to live here and to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities that we have. As first lady, I have been fortunate to see the American dream come true over and over again. I have met many inspiring women, children, parents, and families who have overcome life-changing issues that include addiction, homelessness, family members who are ill or passed away, abuse of all kinds, and many other challenges that will make most people give up.
The past three-and-a-half years have been unforgettable. There are no words to describe how honored, humbled, and fortunate I am to serve our nation as your first lady. After many of the experiences I have had, I don’t know if I can fully explain how many people I take home with me in my heart each day, from brave soldiers who give up so much so we can be free, to children of all circumstances who weigh have met around the world.
Thank you for inspiring me. It is my greatest honor to serve you.
When I speak to members of the military, despite sacrificing time with your families, experiencing the fear of war or suffering loss, they have no regrets about serving our country. The same goes for their families, and the families of first responders who often watch their loved ones walk out the door, not sure if or when they will come home.
When I speak to families who have lost someone, the pain mixed with pride I hear in their voices is something I think about often. Thank you to all who serve our country in the military and as first responders. And thank you for the families who wait for them. You are our heroes in your own right.
I have also been moved by the many children and families that spent time with hospitals, schools, and other locations around the world. Children who are dealing with pain or illness that would break even the strongest adult. Parents who are grateful to wake up every day and see that their child is still alive. These families are a testament to what faith and medicine, strength in science can do.
On my first international trip as first lady, my husband and I visited places of great significance to the three major religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. One special memory of the trip is of a young boy I had privilege of visiting in Rome, Italy. While there, I read the little boy a story and learned that he and his family had been waiting for a heart for a very long time — and he had a grim prognosis. The situation brought my staff and me to tears.
We spoke of a little else as we got ready for the next part of our trip. Upon landing a few hours later, we learned a heart had been donated and would be going to the little what. I think about him often, along with so many young faces across our own country.
More profound and sadly unavoidable examples of our country’s strength and character have appeared in the communities that have been impacted by natural disasters. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding shows the ugly side of mother nature, but they can show us a beautiful side of humanity. My husband and I have visited many places that have been affected by natural disaster and we are deeply moved by the strength of the people who have lost everything. And the kindness of neighbors and communities.
The common thread in all of these challenging situations is the resolve to help one another. I recognize the stories I just told about people who survive extraordinary circumstances, but Donald and I are also inspired by the millions of Americans who wake up each day with a simple yet courageous goal of providing for their families and keeping them safe.
You are the backbone of this country. You’re the people who continue to make the United States of America what it is. And who have the incredible responsibility of preparing future generations to make everything better than when they found it.
Just as you are fighting for your family, my husband, our families, and the people in this administration are here fighting for you. No matter the amount of negative or false media headlines or attacks from the other side, Donald Trump has not and will not lose for you.
He loves this country and he knows how to get things done. We have learned over the past five years he is not a traditional politician. He doesn’t just speak words. He demands action and he gets results. The future of our country has always been very important to him. And it is something I’ve always admired.
In fact, it is to help ensure a better future for the next generation. Be Best has one simple goal: teaching youth about importance of their well-being both mentally and physically. This also includes understanding online safety and the danger of opioid and drug abuse.
Through Be Best, my office and I have been able to highlight people, programs, and organizations doing extraordinary things in our country and around the world. I continue to believe that by shining a light on these positive examples, others across the country and globe will become inspired to do their part for our next generation. Helping children is not a political goal, it is our moral imperative.
When I think back to a defining moment of Be Best, my mind goes to a trip I took to Africa. On that vast and beautiful continent, I was able to visit the countries of Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt. One of those visits in particular had a profound impact on me. Ghana on the coast of West Africa was the first stop in my trip and I experienced firsthand its warm people and their traditions.
While there, I visited the Cape Castle and learned more about the beginning of a cruel and often deadly journey in the era of the slave trade. I was horrified when I listened to the guides tell me so many inhumane stories and I gained new perspectives. This time, in our history, we must never forget so that we can ensure that it never happens again.
Like all of you, I have reflected on the racial unrest in our country it is a harsh reality that we are not proud of parts of our history. I encourage people to focus on our future while still learning from our past. You must remember that today we are all one community, comprised of many races, religions, and ethnicities. Our diverse and storied history is what makes our country strong, and yes, we still have so much to learn from one another.
With that in mind, I would like to call on the citizens of this country to take a moment, pause, and look at things from all perspectives. I urge people to come together in a civil manner so we can work and live up to our standard American ideals.
I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice. And never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin. Instead of tearing things down, let’s reflect on our mistakes. Be proud of our evolution and look to a way forward. Every day, let us remember that we are one nation under God and we need to cherish one another.
My husband’s administration has worked to try and effect change when it comes to issues around race and religion in this country. He is the first president to address — to call upon countries upon the world to end religious persecution and honor the right of every person to worship as they choose. He has made substantial investments in our historically black colleges and universities. This president also continues to fight for school choice to give parents the option to have their school flourish.
My husband knows how to make a real change. From the day I met him, he has only wanted to make this country the best it can be. For many years, I watched him grow concerned and frustrated and I am so proud to see the many things he has done in such a short time. America is in his heart, so while at times we only see the worst of people in politics on the evening news, let’s remember how we come together in the most difficult times.
And while debates rage on about issues of race, let’s focus on the strides we have made and work together for a better tomorrow for everyone. Our administration has also devoted historical resources and produced lifesaving results by raising awareness around opioid addiction and drug abuse, especially for children.
When so often the headlines are filled with gossip, I want to take this moment to encourage the media to focus even more on the nation’s drug crisis. This disease is one that affects everybody. It pays no attention to race, age, or socioeconomic status. Addiction has touched every part of our society in some way. Now more than ever, we have programs and medicine to combat it. We just need to talk about it openly, and you, the media, have the platform to make that happen.
To the media industry and as a country, I ask we all commit to helping in the fight against drug addiction by talking about it even more, especially as we battle the covid pandemic, we need to remember that suicides are on the rise as people who are struggling with loneliness and addiction feel they have nowhere to turn.
Parents, please talk to your children. Teachers and caregivers, pay attention to signs of addiction. Lawmakers, pass legislation that allows those who ask for help to do so safely and without fear and provide resources for organizations that help people impacted by addiction. When the stigma is removed, people will no longer be ashamed to ask for help and lives will be saved. If you are struggling with addiction, there is no shame in your illness. Please seek help. You are worth it.
In the next four years as first lady, I will continue to build upon be best and work with individual states to pass legislation to take care of our most vulnerable. I plan to continue the work I have started with children in foster care as well as the minority communities and tribal nations. I want to ensure children are being protected and communities have sources needed to combat drug addiction and child neglect or abuse.
Like my husband and the administration, I will continue to encourage education and the support of child individual needs. It is vital that children are given the building blocks to succeed. I also look forward to continue my work to restore the people’s house, which is a lasting symbol of pride for our nation. I believe this iconic home needs to be cared for and preserved to be enjoyed by the people of this country and visitors from around the world for years to come. I am passionate about this beautiful house, the grounds, and all they represent.
And now I have a special message for the mothers of this country. This modern world is moving so fast and our children face challenges that seem to change every few months. . Just like me, I know many of you know how manipulative social media can be. And just like me, I’m sure many of you are looking for answers how to talk to your children about the downsides of technology and their relationships with their peers.
Like every parent in the country, I feel there are so many lessons to teach our sons and responsibilities as his mother, there are just not enough hours in the day to do it all. I remind myself that I am more fortunate than most and still have days I look forward to with strength to do the very best I can for him.
To mothers and parents everywhere, you are warriors. In my husband, you have a president who will not stop fighting for you and your families. I see how hard he works each day and night, and despite the unprecedented attacks in the media and opposition, he will not give up. In fact, if you tell him it cannot be done, he just works harder.
Donald is a husband who supports me in all that I do. He has built an administration with an unprecedented number of women in leadership roles and has fostered an environment where the American people are always the priority. He welcomes differing points of view and encourages thinking outside of the box. I know I speak for my husband and the family when I say we are so grateful you have trusted him to be your president and we will be honored to serve this incredible country for four more years.
As you have heard this evening, I don’t want to use this precious time attacking the other side, because as we saw last week, that kind of talk only serves to divide the country further. I’m here because we need my husband to be our president and commander in chief for four more years. He is what is best for our country.
We all know Donald Trump makes no secret about how he feels about things. Whether you like it or not, you always know what he’s thinking. And that is because he is a person who loves this country and its people and wants to continue to make it better. Donald wants to keep your family safe, he wants to help your family succeed. He wants nothing more than for the country to prosper and he doesn’t waste time playing politics.
Almost four years ago, we went into election day completely underestimated. Despite what is being said this year, I know Americans will go to the polls and work on behalf of families, our economy and our national security and our children’s future. To vote for those ideals is not a partisan vote. It is a common sense vote because those are goals and hopes we all believe in. I believe we need my husband’s leadership now more than ever in order to bring us back once again to the greatest economy and the strongest country ever known.
God bless you all, your families, and God bless the United States of America.