Immediately after Melania Trump’s largely humanizing and empathetic speech at Tuesday night’s Republican National Convention, the analysts and hosts at CNN were effusive with their praise for it, applauding the first lady for expressing sympathy for victims of the coronavirus pandemic and addressing racial unrest.
“The first lady doing something that I don’t think that any other speaker has done in the two days of the Republican National Convention have done, addressing pointedly and movingly the No. 1 crisis issue facing the United States right now: the coronavirus pandemic,” anchor Wolf Blitzer said at the conclusion of Trump’s address. “As she expressed her deepest, deepest sympathies to all those who have suffered, the families who have lost loved ones, she promised that her husband would work for treatments, and a vaccine to take care of everyone.”
Blitzer went on to say that was an “important statement” on her behalf, calling it a “moving speech” and that it was “important” that the first lady said she didn’t want to “attack the other side” like everyone else at the convention.
Anchor Jake Tapper agreed with Blitzer, asserting that her address was a “stark contrast” to her husband and the other convention speakers since she expressed “strong sympathy for individual suffering through the two major crises” in America: the coronavirus and racial strife.
“And then talking about the racial unrest and the problems with American history,” Tapper said. “‘A harsh reality that we are not proud of parts of our history.’ These are things we have not heard. I have to say, not only is it in contrast with her husband, it’s almost a contradiction.”
Correspondent Dana Bash, meanwhile, relayed CNN reporting that the first lady did not run her speech by the West Wing or campaign, thus making it less focused on Republican “bread-and-butter” issues.
“She acknowledged what people are feeling, whether it is from the COVID virus, or from the racial unrest,” Bash declared, adding: “As a mom, I perked up when she started to talk about the fact that it’s so hard for parents with children with social media and technology.”
At the same time, Bash acknowledged that Trump may have lost some people when she continued to talk about issues with bullying without acknowledging the irony that “a lot of the intense and vicious attacks that come on social media come from her husband these days.”
Reporter Abby Phillip said that reflected the “sort of conflict” in Trump’s speech, suggesting she was making a pitch to the American public to be the first lady for the next four years rather than four more years of Donald Trump as president.
“That is extraordinary,” she continued. “You know the decision that she made even just to walk out to the stage by herself on her own, really taking a stand, is notable.”
Phillip went on to say that if Trump is going to “take a stand on racial justice,” she would like to “hear her say it in stronger terms,” prompting Bash to note that Trump claimed she’s been “reflecting on the issue” and that it was a vastly different tone from the rest of the party.
Tapper, for his part, brought up Trump’s willingness to embrace her husband’s racist birther conspiracy about former President Barack Obama.
“So, that is something worth thinking about when one considers her rather progressive comments about racial issues and the ugly history in the country,” he added.
In the end, however, the CNN anchor concluded that Trump should still be applauded for the tone and tenor of her speech, especially in contrast to the rest of the convention.
“You have to give her credit for embracing the cause of so many people in the country who are very vulnerable, which again is not something that you necessarily have heard a great deal about during this convention,” Tapper said. “But Melania Trump is giving voice to some people who are very vulnerable in this society. And that’s obviously something to be heralded.”