October 21, 2018

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Melania Trump Visiting Africa, a Continent Freighted With History for Her Husband

Melania Trump Visiting Africa, a Continent Freighted With History for Her Husband
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“The harder things get for their husbands, the more they want to leave,” she said.

Katherine Jellison, a professor at Ohio University who studies first ladies, said Mrs. Trump was unlikely to make any sort of foreign policy moves on behalf of the Trump administration. And she will most likely be one well shielded from any demonstrators or people who are unhappy with Mr. Trump.

“I think they will work very hard to make sure that she is encountering people who are sympathetic and will give her a sympathetic meeting or greeting,” Ms. Jellison said. “This is just kind of standard operating procedure when first ladies make these kind of solo trips.”

Planning for the trip began in earnest last year. The Secret Service whittled down the list of available options for security reasons, and then Mrs. Trump picked countries where she could mix work with a small amount of tourism. Morocco was considered, but abandoned in the end because Mrs. Trump was wary that the entrance for her that was being talked about might strike some as too grand and ceremonious.

Mrs. Trump is likely to focus on spending time with her counterparts as she goes from country to country. She recently hosted Margaret Kenyatta, the Kenyan first lady, at the White House, and said in a speech last week at the United Nations that she was planning to learn more about the work done by Agency for International Development in Kenya on early childhood education.

“Whether it is education, drug addiction, hunger, online safety or bullying, poverty or disease,” Mrs. Trump said in that speech, “it is too often children who are hit first, and hardest, across the globe.”

If Mr. Trump can keep from generating too many of his own headlines this week, Mrs. Trump may be able to step in and help an increasingly isolated America show an inclusive face to the world, Ms. Andersen Brower, the author, said.

“I am very curious to see if Melania’s trip will be effective,” she said. “This White House is in desperate need of another story line.”



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