Donald Trump earned better reviews for his performance in the final presidential debate, but it was an awkward exchange with his wife on stage that captured much of the attention in the hours that followed the showdown with Joe Biden.
After a much calmer and on-topic affair in which Trump went away from the brash style and frequent interruptions of the first debate, cameras caught first lady Melania Trump walking on stage to join her husband. As The Daily Mail noted, the two had a “painfully awkward moment” in which they held hands but Melania appeared to pull sharply away from his grip as they stepped away from the podium together in Nashville, Tennessee.
“While Jill Biden greeted her husband Joe with a warm hug, Melania simply stood next to Trump before eventually taking his hand as cameras snapped photos of the two couples. But as the Trumps turned to walk off stage, Melania appeared to yank away from her husband’s grasp and walked away from him,” The Daily Mail reported, adding that the first couple was later seen holding hands as they returned to the White House.
Melania yanks her hand away from Trump.
— The Recount (@therecount) October 23, 2020
The exchange captured the attention of Twitter, with many of the president’s critics mocking the moment and speculating that there could be some trouble in the marriage. Some wondered whether the president’s poor polling and uphill battle to win re-election could be contributing to the tension.
“Melania knows Trump is done. She rips her hand away abruptly,” one person tweeted. “Trump retaliates with a push in the back. This is an abusive environment.”
This is one of a number of high-profile incidents in which Melania Trump seemed to rebuff Donald in public. One of the most famous exchanges took place during an overseas trip in 2017 in which she pulled sharply away as he tried to reach for her. As The Inquisitr reported, the two were stepping off a plane for a visit in Israel when the awkward encounter took place, with the video quickly gaining viral attention on social media and many of his critics mocking the apparent lack of affection.
There have been a number of similar exchanges between the two since then, including a clip from August in which Melania Trump appeared to repeatedly ignore his attempts to take her hand as the two were departing from Air Force One in New Jersey. Some speculated that in this clip, the first lady was more focused on keeping herself steady as she made her way down the stairs, not purposely ignoring him.