An Atypical Political Spouse, Melania Trump Steps Into The Campaign Spotlight
Donald Trump is no typical politician — and his wife Melania is not a typical political spouse.
Melania Trump says she's spending most of her time at home, caring for the couple's 10-year-old son, Barron. But lately, the former model and native of Slovenia has been more visible on the campaign trail for the Republican front-runner.
At a campaign rally in Milwaukee this month, Trump introduced his wife as "an incredible woman ... an incredible mother."
In turn, she praised her husband as a "great leader."
"He's fair," Melania Trump said. "As you may know by now, when you attack him, he will punch back 10 times harder. No matter who you are, a man or a woman, he treats everyone equal."
That appearance followed a raft of news stories about Trump's poor favorability ratings with women.
In a CNN town hall with the Trump family on Tuesday, Melania Trump talked about her husband's decision to run.
"I gave him my support, and I said to him, you cannot just talk, you need to go and run, and people will take you serious — and if you run you will win."
But that support doesn't mean hitting the campaign trail solo, like many traditional political spouses. She has explained her low-profile role during multiple TV appearances. On MSNBC in February, she said, "I'm a full-time mom and I love it, so I decided not to be in the campaign so much, but I support my husband 100 percent."
Melania Trump's biography is also unusual for a prospective first lady. She was born in 1970 in what is now Slovenia, where she studied architecture and design before becoming a model in Paris and Milan.
In recent years, she's been designing jewelry, which she sometimes hawks on the QVC home shopping network. In 2012, she reflected on that career during a cover shoot for Jet Set magazine — which markets itself as the "Best of Luxury Living."
"I traveled around the world modeling, and I had a great career, so when I come back a day like this, it's really fun," she said between camera poses.
Modeling led her to New York City and eventually to her future husband. They met in 1998, at a fashion industry party. She told the story to ABC's Barbara Walters last year:
"He was very charming, and we had a great sparkle. He came with a date. So he asked me for the number, and I said, 'I will not give you my number,'" she said.
But Donald Trump gave Melania his number, and she called him. They married in 2005 — Melania's first marriage and his third, following divorces from Ivana Trump, also a model, and actress Marla Maples.
A few months after their wedding, in an interview with Larry King on CNN, Melania Trump talked about what it's like to be married to Donald Trump:
"We are very equal in the relationship and that's very important," she said. "To marry a man like Donald ... you need to know who you are."
Trump's wife recently became a focus in the campaign, after an anti-Trump superPAC put out an online ad featuring a revealing photo from her modeling days. Donald Trump then went after rival Ted Cruz's wife, Heidi Cruz, on Twitter, and retweeted an unflattering photo of her alongside a picture of Melania. He later acknowledged that was a "mistake."
Throughout the campaign, Melania Trump says she has told her husband to tone down his language.
"I'm my own person; I tell him what I think. I'm standing very strong on the ground on my two feet," she told CNN in February.
Standing strong may be important, given how unpredictable and chaotic her husband's run has been.
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