Politics November 22, 2016: Melania Trump redefining the role of the first lady away from the White House

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 By Bonnie K. Goodman

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:  Republican president-elect Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd along with his son (L-R) Barron Trump, wife Melania Trump, Jared Kushner and Tiffany Trump during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 09: Republican president-elect Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd along with his son (L-R) Barron Trump, wife Melania Trump, Jared Kushner and Tiffany Trump during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As President-Elect Donald Trump conducts numerous meetings with potential candidates to fill cabinet posts, there is another important part of the transition process moving into the White House. On Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, the New York Post reported that First Lady Melania Trump and son Barron would not be moving into the White House after the Jan. 20 inauguration. Trump will be moving in immediately, but his wife and 10-year-old son will join him at the end of the school year.

The Trumps do not want to disrupt son Barron, who is in the middle of the fourth grade at a prestigious prep school, the Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School on the Upper West Side. Throughout the campaign, Barron has been kept out of the spotlight, except Trump announcing his candidacy, the Republican National convention and election night the public has not seen Barron. Melania also has not been that visible on the campaign trail, except the convention, a few interviews and the last days of the campaign where she gave a speech and joined her husband campaigning. The future first lady, 46, is the first foreign-born one in 200 years, and her few forays into the political life has been met with criticism.

A source told the New York Post, “Melania is extremely close to Barron, and they have become closer during the campaign. The campaign has been difficult for Barron, and she is really hoping to keep disruption to a minimum.” The future first lady repeatedly said during the few interviews she participated in throughout the campaign that she is a hands-on mother, does not have a nanny, and wants to keep her son shielded from the public as possible.

Unfortunately, with staying in New York at the Trump Tower, Melania will not be able to drive  Barron around anymore to school and his activities. They will have Secret Service agents and the NYPD watching their residence, and the Secret Service will drive them around in an armored vehicle. The Secret Service has already descended at their Fifth Avenue home, with the area around closed to traffic.

Melania is committed to her duties as the first lady, and she will travel to Washington as needed. A source told the New York Post, “Melania is very supportive of her husband and is fully on board of doing everything that’s needed as first lady.” The press asked the President-elect on Sunday, Nov. 20, as he emerged from meetings at his Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey about the living arrangements and if his wife and son will be moving into the White House, Trump responded, “very soon. Right after he finishes school.”

Afterward, Trump Transition spokesman Jason Miller commented, “The Trump family is energized and excited about their new role serving the country, and specifically the President-elect’s task at hand of helping to move our country forward. No official statement has been released by the Trump family regarding transition timing, but like any parents they are concerned about pulling their 10-year-old son out of school in the middle of the year. We would also appreciate the same privacy and security considerations given to previous First Families with regard to minor children be extended to the Trumps as well.”

Although it was common for first ladies in the nineteenth century to stay home or delay moving to the White House, no first lady in modern history did not initially move into the White House after the inauguration. Ryder University First Ladies’ scholar Myra Gutin told USA Today, Melania Trump “very well may be the first telecommuting first lady.”

Gutin sees Melania’s decision to stay away from a problem for her completing her duties as the first lady and for her husband’s fledgling administration. Although the first lady is an unpaid position with no constitutional role, she maintains almost as large staff in the East Wing as the president does in the West Wing. Gutin says, “The public is split on what it wants the first lady to be,” Gutin says. “Half prefer she just serve tea and be ceremonial. The other half says you have an incredible platform here, what are you going to do with it? If we’re not seeing her, if she’s hiding away, I can’t see it as helpful (to the Trump administration).”

While Melania Trump has the style of former First Lady Jackie Kennedy, her decision to stay away from the White House most resembles First Lady Bess Truman, the wife of President Harry Truman, who served as the 33rd president from 1945 to 1953. Truman spent as much time as possible away from the White House and Washington and in their native Missouri with the Trumans’ only daughter Margret. Truman spent most of her summers at her home in Missouri. Gutin explained the primary reason Truman spent time in Missouri; it was because “Mrs. Truman wanted Margaret to have a more down-to-earth upbringing.”

Like Melania, Bess was uncomfortable with the limelight of the presidency. Despite being more reticent of the limelight, Bess Truman was a successful first lady, who lobbied and oversaw the renovation of the White House as it was stripped to its bare walls. The success of Bess Truman proves that especially now in this technologically advanced age, Melania Trump can make it work as First Lady until the end of the school year in June, as long as she eventually moves into the White House.

Full Text Political Transcripts March 7, 2016: Nancy Reagan Funeral Schedule at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

NANCY REAGAN MEMORIAL INFORMATION AT THE REAGAN LIBRARY

MRS. RONALD REAGAN TO LAY IN REPOSE MARCH 9 & MARCH 10, 2016 WITH FUNERAL SERVICES ON MARCH 11, 2016
“What do you say about someone who gives your life meaning? What do you say about someone who’s always there with support and understanding, someone who makes sacrifices so that your life will be easier and more successful? Well, what you say is that you love that person and treasure her. I simply can’t imagine the last 8 years without Nancy.” – Ronald Reagan, August 1988
As First Lady of the United States, Nancy Reagan served the people of this great nation with grace and humility. She has been an inspiration to all of us who worked for her at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and she will be deeply missed. The Reagan family, our Foundation and this country have lost a treasured soul.
Mrs. Reagan will be buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, next to her husband, Ronald Wilson Reagan, who died on June 5, 2004. To prepare for her funeral, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, located at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley, California is closed, and will re-open to the public on Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
As part of the official events, Mrs. Reagan will lie in repose at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Wednesday, March 9th from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and also on Thursday, March 10th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. No parking will be allowed at the Reagan Library. If you wish to pay your respects to Mrs. Reagan, transportation will be provided for the public at the former Bank of America property located at 450 American Street, Simi Valley, California. Shuttles will run continuously to the Reagan Library throughout those hours. Because security will be heightened at the Library during this time, no large bags or cameras will be permitted and all bags will be inspected. Strollers will not be allowed inside the building. Gifts and flowers will only be accepted at the bottom of Presidential Drive and at the shuttle pick up location.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, March 11, 2016. Funeral services are closed to the public.
In lieu of flowers, Mrs. Reagan had asked that contributions be made to the Ronald Reagan Memorial Fund at www.reaganlibrary.com.
For continuous updated information on the week’s events, please visit the Reagan Library’s web site at www.reaganlibrary.com.
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Full Text Political Transcripts March 6, 2016: Political reactions to former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s death (1921-2016)

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Political leaders react to former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s death (1921-2016)

The following are some of the condolences from American political leaders Democrat and Republican including former and current presidents and first ladies, Congressional leaders and representatives, senators, state governors, and presidential candidates past and present:

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama:

“Nancy Reagan once wrote that nothing could prepare you for living in the White House. She was right, of course. But we had a head start, because we were fortunate to benefit from her proud example, and her warm and generous advice. Our former First Lady redefined the role in her time here. Later, in her long goodbye with President Reagan, she became a voice on behalf of millions of families going through the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s, and took on a new role, as advocate, on behalf of treatments that hold the potential and the promise to improve and save lives. We offer our sincere condolences to their children, Patti, Ron, and Michael, and to their grandchildren. And we remain grateful for Nancy Reagan’s life, thankful for her guidance, and prayerful that she and her beloved husband are together again.”

Former First Lady Barbara Bush (Husband former President George H. W. Bush (1989-1993) served as President Reagan’s Vice President):

“Nancy Reagan was totally devoted to President Reagan, and we take comfort that they will be reunited once more. George and I send our prayers and condolences to her family.”

Former President George W. Bush:

“Laura and I are saddened by the loss of former First Lady Nancy Reagan. Mrs. Reagan was fiercely loyal to her beloved husband, and that devotion was matched only by her devotion to our country. Her influence on the White House was complete and lasting. During her time as First Lady and since, she raised awareness about drug abuse and breast cancer. When we moved into the White House, we benefitted from her work to make those historic rooms beautiful. Laura and I are grateful for the life of Nancy Reagan, and we send our condolences to the entire Reagan family.”

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton:

“Hillary and I were deeply saddened to learn of Nancy Reagan’s passing. Nancy was an extraordinary woman: a gracious First Lady, proud mother, and devoted wife to President Reagan-her Ronnie. Her strength of character was legendary, particularly when tested by the attempted assassination of the President, and throughout his battle with Alzheimer’s. She leaves a remarkable legacy of good that includes her tireless advocacy for Alzheimer’s research and the Foster Grandparent Program. We join all Americans in extending our prayers and condolences to her beloved children and her entire family during this difficult time.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI):

“Ronald Reagan could not have accomplished everything that he did without his wife Nancy. As first lady, she brought a sense of grace and dignity to the White House. She roused the country to redouble the fight against drugs. And she showed us all the meaning of devotion as she cared for President Reagan throughout his long goodbye. She loved her husband, and she loved her country. This was her service. It was her way of giving back. And all of us are very grateful. So on behalf of the entire House, I wish to extend our condolences to the Reagan family and offer our prayers on the passing of a great American, Nancy Reagan.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus:

“Nancy Reagan embodied what it means to represent America as First Lady and her dignified and warm demeanor inspired America.”

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.):

“As we celebrate her life and legacy as a partner, confidante and adviser to President Reagan, and as a leader and philanthropist in her own right, we should also honor her passing by reflecting on the progress we can make when our elected officials work together across the aisle, as the Reagan administration did on issues ranging from immigration to nuclear arms control, making our people more prosperous and our nation more secure.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y:

“You didn’t have to be a Reagan Republican to admire and respect Nancy Reagan. She was a tower of strength alongside her husband, had strong beliefs, and was not afraid to chart her own course politically. She persuaded her husband to support the [gun control] Brady Law, and their advocacy was instrumental in helping us pass it.”

Former 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney:

“With the passing of Nancy Reagan, we say a final goodbye to the days of Ronald Reagan. With charm, grace, and a passion for America, this couple reminded us of the greatness and the endurance of the American experiment. Some underestimate the influence of a First Lady but from Martha and Abigail through Nancy and beyond, these women have shaped policy, strengthened resolve, and drawn on our better angels. God and Ronnie have finally welcomed a choice soul home.”

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger:

“Nancy Reagan was one of my heroes. She served as first lady with unbelievable power, class and grace and left her mark on the world. She’s with her Ronnie now, but those of us she left behind will miss her dearly.”

Republican Presidential Candidate and Businessman Donald Trump:

“Nancy Reagan, the wife of a truly great president, was an amazing woman. She will be missed!”

Republican Presidential Candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz:

“Nancy Reagan will be remembered for her deep passion for this nation and love for her husband, Ronald. The Reagan family is in our prayers.”

Republican President Candidate and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio:

“For conservatives, she has been a powerful living link to her husband’s legacy as one of the greatest modern presidents.”

Republican President Candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich:

“President Reagan has been reunited with his wife and partner but America and the Reagan family have lost a woman of grace and strength. I join people from around the country and the world in sending them our best thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. A woman of strength and wit, Nancy Reagan’s dedication to our country was matched only by that of her husband. Theirs was one of our nation’s great love stories and a model of shared devotion to our country. America is stronger and better for their service.”

Democratic Presidential Candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders:

“No matter your party or political ideology, this is a sad day for America.”

Full Text Political Transcripts March 6, 2016: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Statement on Nancy Reagan’s death

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President and the First Lady

Source: WH, 3-6-16

Nancy Reagan once wrote that nothing could prepare you for living in the White House. She was right, of course. But we had a head start, because we were fortunate to benefit from her proud example, and her warm and generous advice.

Our former First Lady redefined the role in her time here. Later, in her long goodbye with President Reagan, she became a voice on behalf of millions of families going through the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s, and took on a new role, as advocate, on behalf of treatments that hold the potential and the promise to improve and save lives.

We offer our sincere condolences to their children, Patti, Ron, and Michael, and to their grandchildren. And we remain grateful for Nancy Reagan’s life, thankful for her guidance, and prayerful that she and her beloved husband are together again.

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History Buzz April 16, 2012: Darlene Clark Hine: First Lady Michelle Obama, Paradox, African American Studies Professor & Historian Says

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Darlene Clark Hine: First Lady Michelle Obama, paradox, African American Studies Professor & Historian Says

Source: WaPo, 4-16-12

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive to welcome Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha Cameron to the White House prior to a state dinner. (Susan Walsh – AP) Northwestern University.

“Michelle Obama is a genuine paradox,” said Michel, a professor of African American studies and history at Hine’s lecture, part of a black studies conference at the university last week, argued that the first lady is a “transformative, liberationist” figure — despite her interest in domestic issues and the long list of magazine cover stories focused on topics such as Obama’s approach to motherhood or the importance of healthful eating.

“I caution: Let us not be distracted by a first lady draped in gowns, gracing the covers of women’s magazine’s from ‘Essence’ to ‘Vogue’ or a first lady on her knees planting a White House garden or a first lady jumping double-dutch rope with an array of young girls,” Hine said. “Rather let us appreciate the paradox.”

“What you think you see and know of her may not be all that is important to know about her,” Hine said in an interview after her lecture. “People see her as these labels – black and woman – and they see her acting in domestic ways – focused on home, hearth and family – as if there is no political agenda.”

“She is using the politics of self-development, neighborliness, and that will lead the the future election of just and humane individuals,” Hine said. “The lives you save today will make the changes that you suggest to them in the future.”

Nancy Clarke: White House Florist’s Tales of Six First Ladies Rosalynn Carter to Michelle Obama in “My First Ladies”

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

When Hillary Clinton Ran Naked Through the White House

Former first lady Hillary Clinton dashed naked from her White House bathroom to the bedroom. Laura Bush would drive staffers crazy directing where each Christmas ornament should be placed on the presidential tree. Barbara Bush was such a fan of Keds tennis shoes, her husband bought her 20 pairs in different colors and designs. And Nancy Reagan once called, distressed that two roses in a vase in her dressing room had drooped. Former White House chief florist Nancy Clarke has a closet full of such insider tales from her 31 years with six first ladies from Rosalynn Carter (favored barbecue dinners) to Michelle Obama (prefers gala apples over flowers). And now, two years after leaving the White House, she’s written a rare behind-the-scenes book, My First Ladies, due out in September.

“I truly believe I had the ultimate job any floral designer could ever dream of,” says Clarke. While every first family brings in a chief social secretary to handle East Wing affairs, Clarke was there for six administrations, serving as a de facto deputy social secretary. Hers is the first such look at the quirks and traits of her bosses.

Consider Clinton, described as a mix of dignity and schoolgirl. When the Monica Lewinsky affair broke, Clinton didn’t show her feelings to staff and, Clarke says, never engaged in the kinds of fighting with her husband that was described in the media. Once, Clarke took the elevator to the presidential residence and saw Clinton dash naked from her bathroom to the bedroom. “We looked at each other and we both screamed,” Clarke writes. Clinton joked about it later. “She said it was like living in her sorority house again.”

Reagan, Clarke says, was the most elegant and romantic of the six. Dispelling rumors that the Reagan marriage was an act, the Gipper once spotted mistletoe hanging in a foyer, then pulled his wife over for a big hug and smooch.

Laura Bush, obsessed with Christmas, was also very down to earth, driving her hubby’s Ford pickup at their Texas ranch and even climbing into a refrigerated truck to view the flowers to be used at her daughter’s wedding.

Mother-in-law Barbara was considerate, so much so that she mistakenly gave Camp David staffers pricey Steiff teddy bears used in Christmas centerpieces that were supposed to be returned to storage.

Having survived six first ladies, Clarke is too diplomatic to pick a favorite. “I loved working for every single one. They were all different. They all had different personalities. And I really did, I loved my job.”

Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR.

Rick Perlstein: Betty Ford, Pioneer

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Source: NYT, 7-11-11

Vivienne Flesher

THE obituaries for Betty Ford, who died Friday at the age of 93, were filled with colorful stories about an incongruous life: former Martha Graham dancer, dispenser of scandalous comments to the media, alcohol and drug addict. So colorful, in fact, that they may crowd out her historical importance — which may well have been greater than those of her husband, President Gerald R. Ford.

Though she was never an elected official, industry titan or religious leader, few Americans changed people’s lives so dramatically for the better. I learned it for myself in the most unlikely of places: a Ford family estate sale in 2007….READ MORE

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