It isn’t news that Melania Trump and Michelle Obama are polar opposites when it comes to their roles as first ladies. Comparisons haven’t typically been drawn between what their spokespersons have had to say on their behalf, however. Stephanie Grisham, Mrs. Trump’s communications director, has been forced to defend President Donald Trump’s wife on a number of occasions since he was elected. Grisham has come forward to not only make routine announcements, but justify Melania’s actions to a bemused public. The latest statement that Grisham delivered in regards to Mrs. Trump confronting bullying is the one initiative she’s been defending repeatedly. There are a few words used in her statements that are being attacked by a former White House official who worked for the Obama administration.
The official tells CNN that in no way would Grisham have ever needed to be as “explicit” in her statements on behalf of Michelle Obama. Melania Trump has a whole different set of circumstances that have to separate her from her husband’s role.
Grisham was asked by CNN if Melania feels the need to send her out to make statements justifying her agendas since they don’t match up with the president. Grisham reportedly answered a flat “no.”
“Mrs. Trump is independent and acts independently from her husband. She does what she feels is right and knows that she has a real opportunity through her role as first lady to have a positive impact on the lives of children. Her only focus is to effect change within our next generation.”
The statement, which is intended to be instrumental in separating Mrs. Trump from the president by virtue of their agendas — meaning the president has a tendency to outright bully others. The report notes that it’s “fundamentally different than first ladies of recent memory.”
The fact that it’s spelled out in no uncertain terms is what truly separates Melania Trump from Michelle Obama, according to a former Obama aide. While Mrs. Obama did tackle her own initiatives that were independent of her husband, she wouldn’t have ever needed to distance herself from him.
“There would never have been anything similar to that (statement from Grisham) because it wasn’t an issue for the Obamas. Michelle Obama had her own agenda — Let Girls Learn, Let’s Move, Joining Forces — but at no point did any of those conflict with the President’s words, actions, or policies.”
Anita McBride, who acted as chief of staff for first lady Laura Bush, says the first lady role is unique to each president’s wife and the job description can be anything she wants. McBride notes that Melania Trump has charted her own course since the beginning by moving to Washington, D.C. six months after the inauguration and doing things on her own terms and her timeline.
— The Hill (@thehill) October 24, 2017
Another factor separating Melania Trump not just from Michelle Obama, but other first ladies, is that she’s using a fraction of the staff they all did. Many first ladies utilize the assistance of 20 or more staff members, but Grisham explains that Mrs. Trump uses nine staff members because she values “quality versus quantity.”
The nation is still adjusting to Melania Trump living by her own rules despite the vast differences in strategy compared to that of Michelle Obama and other first ladies before her.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]