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The Journal Gazette

Monday, July 17, 2017 1:00 am

First lady seems to be more at ease overseas

Washington Post

Melania Trump seemed at ease during her brief trip to Paris last week. She spoke French with sick children during a visit to Necker hospital, toured the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte and garnered positive reviews for her reserved demeanor and adherence to diplomatic protocols on Bastille Day.

Overall, she seems to be enjoying the rest of the world a more than her home turf.

Trump, who moved to the White House five weeks ago, has accompanied her husband on several foreign trips. On each she has stood behind a lectern and spoken publicly, something she rarely does in the United States.

She has also made several well-publicized visits to hospitals overseas, in contrast to the handful of deliberately low-key stops she has made to pediatric wards in New York and Washington, D.C.

“We see (the first lady) so much more when she is abroad, which is really bizarre,” said Kate Andersen Brower, author of “First Women,” a history of presidential spouses.

During the recent G-20 meeting in Poland, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson noted that the first lady was sent into a meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to help wrap up the overly long session. (Her intervention did not work.)

“These foreign trips help Melania Trump a lot. When she goes abroad, she is able to do things that for some reason she isn't able to do here. ... I think they are very wise to have her speak the language,” she said.

Trump, who was born in Slovenia, has said she is fluent in six languages, and in addition to conversing in French in Paris, she spoke Italian with the pope when she and her husband visited Rome.