Donald Trump’s wife, businesswoman and former model Melania Trump, cast her vote for her husband in the New York Republican presidential primary today in front of many members of both local and national media at the Central Synagogue in midtown Manhattan. Josh Haskell of ABC News asked Melania Trump for whom she voted as she was leaving her polling place, to which she jokingly replied, “Oh, what a surprise!”
Donald Trump’s family and their eligibility to vote in the 2016 New York primary have been a point of interest for the national media lately, as news broke last week that Trump’s elder daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son Eric Trump — both Trump’s grown children with his first wife, Ivana — had missed the New York deadline to switch their party affiliations to Republican — October 9, 2015 — in order to vote for their father in the New York primary.
Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump are both registered unaffiliated, and New York has closed primaries. New Yorkers must be registered with a political party in order to vote in either a presidential or congressional primary.
Donald Trump’s immediate family participated in a CNN town hall on April 12, in which Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump, Jr., also his son with Ivana Trump, confirmed that he is eligible to vote as a registered Republican in New York. Trump’s younger daughter Tiffany Trump, a 22-year-old senior at the University of Pennsylvania and the daughter of Donald Trump’s second wife, Marla Maples, confirmed that she is a registered Republican in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania will be holding its presidential primaries for both the Republicans and the Democrats on April 26.
Donald Trump’s current and third wife Melania Trump, 45, with whom he shares his youngest child, 10-year-old son Barron, is a naturalized American citizen and is originally from Slovenia. She worked in Milan and Paris as a very successful fashion model before moving to New York City in 1996. Donald and Melania Trump met in 1998 and married in 2005.
Donald Trump’s wife has been far quieter on the campaign trail than his more enthusiastic surrogate, daughter Ivanka, 34. Ivanka Trump runs a lifestyle brand in addition to her primary job as Executive Vice President of Development & Acquisitions at the Trump Organization, she was a model for several years, and she also spent years appearing regularly on Donald Trump’s NBC reality show The Apprentice. She is by all accounts more comfortable with the limelight than her stepmother.
Melania Trump has, for her part, begun to step out into the spotlight on the campaign trail, albeit later than some expected her to do so. Melania and Ivanka Trump have specifically been tasked with disputing the accusations of misogyny that have been leveled at Donald Trump since the beginning of the election cycle, when Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly asked him a debate question about some of his past insults that were directed at women, both on television and on social media, and he responded by tweeting harsh criticism of Kelly for months and asking his supporters to boycott her show.
Donald Trump’s wife’s role, as well as that of his elder daughter, has also been seen as crucial to “humanizing” Trump as a candidate, which John Carroll, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at Boston University, told press is traditionally the most common and helpful role for a candidate’s spouse to play. Carroll says that a candidate’s spouse usually serves as the candidate’s “chief cheerleader,” and that Melania Trump has been the most consequential political spouse this cycle because her “husband is in the most need of help” due to the aforementioned accusations of misogyny, in addition to accusations of racism and general classlessness.
CNN and The New York Times called the Republican race in New York a win for Donald Trump shortly after the polls closed at 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19, based on exit poll data.
[Image courtesy of Darren Hauck/Getty Images]