First Lady Melania Trump offered what was the most open acknowledgment of the toll taken by the coronavirus during the Republican convention so far, expressing sympathy for those grieving lost loved ones, and in her speech, she also said that the U.S. has more work to do to address racial unrest and division.
Mrs. Trump, who has taken a quieter, behind-the-scenes role than recent other first ladies, offered support for her husband and his administration's work. But she also offered a softer, sympathetic tone on the virus that continues to ravage the nation.
The first lady said her husband would not rest until a COVID-19 vaccine is available, a tacit acknowledgment of the high human costs of the virus, over 178,000 dead.
"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 everyone who has lost a loved one," she said, speaking before an audience in the White House Rose Garden, which she recently redesigned.
The first lady went on to thank the health care workers and first responders who put the country first. She said she has been moved by the way Americans have come together in such an uncertain time.
Melania Trump also addressed racial unrest in America in a way no one else has yet during the RNC, and in a way that her husband generally does not.
She said that while the nation has made progress in racial equality, it has further to go.
"It is a harsh reality that we are not proud of parts of our history," the first lady said.
But that doesn't diminish what America means to her, she noted, sharing her perspective as a native of Slovenia.
"As an immigrant and a very independent woman, I understand what a privilege it is to live here," she said.
Mrs. Trump has quietly shown her independence as first lady, choosing not always to appear with her husband and at times, offering messages contradicting his. While Mr. Trump for a time dismissed masks, Melania Trump urged people to wear them.