Where has Melania been? Donald Trump explains wife’s absence from the campaign trail

Ms Trump told reporters to ‘stay tuned’ to see if she will return to campaign events

Graig Graziosi
Sunday 07 April 2024 13:32 BST
Donald Trump explains Melania’s absence from the campaign trail

Donald Trump has explained why wife Melania has been largely absent from his 2024 presidential campaign.

The former first lady was last seen on Easter Sunday after lunch at Mar-a-Lago with her teenage son Barron but has been almost entirely absent from both Mr Trump’s campaign events, and his multiple criminal and civil trials.

During the 2016 and 2020 campaigns, Ms Trump often stayed at home while Mr Trump was campaigning. In an interview with 20/20 in 2015, she explained that she wanted to be there for Barron who was nine at the time.

After Mr Trump won the White House in 2016, Mrs Trump didn’t move from the family’s New York penthouse until June 2017.

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump, and Melania Trump, attend a golf awards ceremony at the Trump International Golf Club on March 24, 2024, in West Palm Beach, Florida (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The last election-related event that she attended with her husband was when he cast a vote for himself in Florida’s primary in February.

Ms Trump was asked then if she was going to campaign with her husband before the November election. She answered “stay tuned”.

Mr Trump has teased her return to the campaign trail for months but also defended her absence.

“She’s a private person, a great person, a very confident person, and she loves our country very much. She’ll be — at the appropriate time — she’ll be out there,” Mr Trump said during an interview with Meet the Press in September.

A source close to the first lady also told CNN in late March that Ms Trump determines when and in what way she will appear at political events. However as the election draws closer, it appears Ms Trump will be more visible.

After voting, First Lady Melania Trump leaves the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center in Palm Beach, Florida on November, 3, 2020 (AFP via Getty Images)

Mrs Trump is reportedly attending a fundraiser in West Palm Beach this Saturday evening with her husband. She is also appearing at a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser for the Log Cabin Republicans on 20 April, according to Politico.

She previously attended events for the group, described as the “nation’s largest Republican organization dedicated to representing LGBT conservatives and allies” and another called “Fix California,” which describes itself as focused on “election integrity and voter engagement”.

The Independent has contacted the Trump campaign for comment.

Mr Trump told Megyn Kelly on her podcast in September that Mrs Trump “doesn’t need to be out there”.

Around the time of the Iowa caucuses, her absence inspired Trump detractors to post Melania “missing” posters. The posters included a photo of Ms Trump and the caption: “Have you seen this woman? Where is our First Lady? Why is Donald Trump hiding her? We miss her. Please call 561-832-2600 if found.”

One person even hired a plane to fly a banner reading “Where’s Melania?” over an Iowa State football game when Mr Trump was attending last September.

Mr Trump has also previously suggested that his wife staying out of the spotlight was his decision, telling Meet the Press that he wanted to "keep her away from [the campaign]".

“It’s so nasty and so mean," he said during the September interview.

Mrs Trump has had her own personal issues in recent months. Her mother, Amalija Knavs, died on 9 January after she fell “very ill,” according to Mr Trump. Ms Knavs’ cause of death has not been revealed.

Mrs Trump joined the other first ladies at the memorial service for former first lady Rosalynn Carter in November, and attended a Mar-a-Lago dinner for Hungarian authoritarian Viktor Orban last month.

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