Politics May 7, 2018: First Lady Melania Trump’s poll numbers surge as she unveils Be Best initiative

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First Lady Melania Trump’s poll numbers surge as she unveils Be Best initiative

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

White House Twitter

While her husband’s poll numbers stagnate, First Lady Melania Trump’s polls numbers are surging to heights only in President Donald Trump’s dreams. According to a CNN / SSRS poll released on Monday, May 7, 2018, Mrs.Trump now has a 57 percent favorability rating, up 10 percent from January. Mrs. Trump’s numbers are better than her husband has ever experienced. The good news in the polls comes as the first lady unveiled her “Be Best” child welfare program in a Rose Garden ceremony.

The first lady’s rise in popularity coincides with President Trump’s scandals, particularly the revelation he had an affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2006 just after the birth of first couple’s son, Barron. First Lady Melania is benefitting from the same surge in public approval from members of all political parties as former First Lady Hillary Clinton did 20-years ago when President Bill Clinton was embroiled in a scandal involving an affair with former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.

According to the new CNN poll, the first lady has a 57 percent approval rating, while only 27 of respondents have a negative view of her. The numbers have risen because of Democrat approval of the first lady, with 15 percent having a more favorable view of her since January. The numbers have only increased by five percent among Republicans. Despite the increase, still, a majority of Democrats have an unfavorable opinion of Mrs. Trump, 40 to 38 percent.

Melania’s number has risen because of increased support from the nation’s women with an addition of 13 percent, to just seven percent of men. In total, 54 percent of women view the first lady favorably, with only 30 percent not. Melania’s last best polling was in March 2017, when she had a 52 percent favorable rating versus 32 unfavorable. Although first ladies usually have higher favorability than the presidents, the difference between President and Mrs. Trump’s poll rating is more glaring. Trump only has a 41 percent approval rating with a 53 percent disapproval in the same CNN poll.

CNN cites the “sympathy” factor as the main reason Melania’s numbers have increased. Unlike her predecessor, when news emerged of each affair the president had during their marriage, the first lady did not show a united front and did do not stand by her man as Hillary Clinton famously quipped in a 60 Minutes interview during the 1992 presidential campaign. Instead, Melania asserted her independence from her husband. In January, after news of the affair with Stormy Daniels become public, the first First Lady did not join the president on his trip to the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland and she traveled herself to the capital for Trump’s first State of the Union address.

In February, when news broke that the president had another affair with Playboy model Karen McDougal in 2006, the first First Lady chose to travel to Andrews Air Force base to travel with the president. Melania Trump did not want to walk across the White House lawn to Marine One with the president, a photo-op so common in the Clinton era, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In between, especially during the recent state visit from France, Mrs. Trump avoided taking her husband’s hand. Through it all, she has not commented or defended her husband as Hillary famously did so in early 1998. Her stoic silence had garnered her sympathy from the American public.

Despite, the bump in favorability, her husband’s image still tarnished Melania and her numbers are not yet reaching her predecessors at this point in their first term. According to a CNN poll from September 2010 poll, Democrat Michelle Obama had a 62 percent favorable rating and only 25 percent unfavorable. Republican Laura Bush fared even better when a May 2002 CNN / Time poll had her with as 67 percent favorable rating, only 8 percent unfavorable, with 25 percent undecided.

Her poll bumps most resembles Hillary Clinton, whose husband President Bill Clinton faced his whole presidency with scandals and accusations. According to the Pew Research Center, Hillary had a 57 percent favorable rating in July 1994, the same point in her husband’s first term, and after her foray into healthcare policy. However, after the Lewinsky scandal broke and impeachment ensued Hillary’s numbers hit a record high. In March 1998, her favorable rating was 65 percent, in October it fell to 58 percent to rebound to 66 percent in December; a term high as impeachment hearing was going on in Congress. At the same time, President Clinton’s numbers fell to 51 percent.

First Lady Melania Trump’s high poll numbers come as she is coming into her own as the first lady. Two weeks ago she planned every aspect of her first state dinner welcoming France’s President Emmanuel Macron and first lady Brigette. Today, she unveiled her initiative “Be Best” in a Rose Garden speech. According to the White House, “BE BEST will concentrate on three main pillars: well-being, social media use, and opioid abuse.” The child welfare program emphasizes the problems children face with their physical and emotional health, drugs particularly the opioid crisis and cyberbullying on social media. Althotheirhere first lady is announcing her initiative 18-months into her tenure, she has spent her time on events concerning children. She announced in one of her rare presidential campaign speeches in 2016 that she would be focusing on cyberbullying as First Lady.

In her 10-minute speech, with her husband present Melania unveiled her program. Mrs. Trump expressed, “As a mother and as the first lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and oftentimes turn to forms of destructive or addictive behavior such as bullying, drug addiction or even suicide.” The first lady also explained where the initiative’s name originates, “I feel strongly that as adults we can and should be best at educating our children about the importance of a healthy and balanced life.”

The most controversial part of the first lady’s program is cyberbullying. Here again, Melania is showing her independence from her husband. The president is well known for his insults on the campaign trail and especially on Twitter and he is considered the nation’s bully-in-chief. The first lady almost seemed to be schooling her husband discussing the initiative, saying, “As we all know, social media can both positively and negatively affect our children. But too often, it is used in negative ways. When children learn positive online behaviors early on, social media can be used in productive ways and can affect positive change.” That independence from her husband, his scandals, vices, and policies, are why Melania Trump is setting herself apart and gaining the public’s trust.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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Politics December 28, 2016: Obama, Hillary Clinton still top Gallup’s most admired men and women in 2016

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Obama, Hillary Clinton still top Gallup’s most admired men and women in 2016

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: CNN

President Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton remain the country’s most admired in 2016. Gallup Poll released on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, their annual list of most admired men and women for the year with predictable results. For the ninth straight year, President Obama has topped the list of most admired men, with Hillary Clinton topping the list of most admired women for as record-breaking time. Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump came in a close second to the outgoing president.

President Obama won the distinction of most admired with 22 percent of the vote, up from 17 percent last year, but his “narrowest” margin to date. He has appeared on the top 10, 12 times since 2006 and has been in the top spot for the last nine years. Trump came in a rather close second with 15 percent, while Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence sees his first appearance on the list coming in at number 10. Last year Trump tied for second with Pope Francis but with only 5 percent of the vote. This year is the president-elect’s sixth appearance in the top 10, in 1988 to 1990 and then again in 2011. Trump is looking to gain the most admired title next year an honor most sitting presidents have enjoyed.

President Obama has the second overall most admired titles besting former Presidents Bill Clinton (1993–2001) and Ronald Reagan (1981–1989) but behind Dwight Eisenhower (1953–1961). It is no surprise Obama won most admired, it is a tradition for the sitting president always to be named the most admired, and has been the case for 70 years since the poll originated in 1946. Only 12 times did a sitting president lose out on the most-admired honor and usually only happens if the president has a low approval rating. Most recently in 2008 when then President-elect Obama edged out President George W. Bush who was seeing extremely low approval ratings at the end of his tenure.

Gallup Polls Most Admired Men 2016 Top 10:

1. Barack Obama 22
2. Donald Trump 15
3. Pope Francis 4
4. Bernie Sanders 2
5. Rev. Billy Graham 1
6t. Benjamin Netanyahu 1
6t. The Dalai Lama 1
6t. Bill Clinton 1
6t. Bill Gates 1
10. Mike Pence 1

Despite losing the presidential election to Trump Former first lady, New York Senator, 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tops the list of the most admired women for the 21st time and 15th year in a row. Clinton’s popularity coincides with her winning the popular vote in the election by nearly 3 million ballots although she lost in the Electoral College.

Clinton only lost the number one spot in 1995 and 1996 to Mother Theresa, and 2001 when First Lady Laura Bush took the position. Clinton only received 12 percent of the vote to reach the top of the list, last year she had 13 percent. Clinton has appeared on the list 25 times. First Lady Michelle Obama is in second place, but with 8 percent her best showing on the list since her husband was re-elected in 2012 and her best support since 2009 when she had 7 percent of the vote.

Gallup Polls Most Admired Women 2016 Top 10:

1. Hillary Clinton 12
2. Michelle Obama 8
3. Angela Merkel 3
4. Oprah Winfrey 3
5. Ellen DeGeneres 2
6. Queen Elizabeth 2
7. Malala Yousafzai 2
8. Condoleezza Rice 2
9. Elizabeth Warren 1
10. Sarah Palin 1

This year’s list is seeing some record number of appearances for both the most admired men and women. For the men, Rev. Billy Graham has his 60th top 10 finish having been in the top 10 every year since 1955, except for 1962 and 1976, while former President Bill Clinton has his 25th appearance on the top 10. On the women’s side, Hillary Clinton has the most top honors on the list with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt second with 13 top honors. Queen Elizabeth has the most top 10 appearances of all women with 48, while Oprah Winfrey moved up to the second most of all time with her 29 showings.

Gallup believes there is a possibility that the poll’s most admired might have a shake up next year “as both move into the post-political phase of their careers.” They believe Trump will assume the top spot among the men, with Obama still ranking high in the top 10. Gallup also thinks Clinton still has a possibility of reigning among the women since former first ladies have won 35 out of 67 times, and assuming a non-political role will only help her popularity.

Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS, is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor with a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics November 28, 2016: First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes her last Christmas season at the White House

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First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes her last Christmas season at the White House

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: USA Today

It is Christmastime at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama receivedthe day after Thanksgiving Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, the last Christmas tree she will decorate at the White House of her husband President Barack Obama’s administration. Unlike the last seven years, Mrs. Obama was not joined by her daughters Malia and Sasha, who also skipped this year’s pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Instead, the Obamas are being joined this holiday season by their youngest nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson. Along with her nephews the Obamas dogs, Bo and Sunny tagged along.

This year’s winning White House Christmas tree is “a 19-foot Balsam-Veitch fir cross. The tree’s growers are Dave and Mary Vander Velden of the Whispering Pines Tree Farm in Oconto, Wisconsin the winners of this year’s National Christmas Tree Association contest. The Association has picked the tree since 1966.

CNN reported that the Vander Veldens’s tree did not grow as large as the official tree needs to be and will be placed somewhere else within the White House decorations, and instead a tree donated from a Pennsylvania farm will be used as the official tree adorning the Blue Room of the White House. The Vander Veldens presented the tree to the First Lady at the White House’s north portico after it arrived in the traditional horse-drawn carriage. The carriage had jingle bells, while “a four-piece military band played “O Christmas Tree.”

When Mrs. Obama received the tree, she asked her nephews, “What do you think?” and then joked about her holiday substitutes, “These are our replacement kids. This is what happens when you get teenagers. One is asleep — these two are up.” The First Lady enthusiastically concluded, “Christmas begins. The holiday starts! We’re ready — our last one. We’re excited about it.”

As the First Lady looked over the tree, she said, “This is the easiest part of the holiday season.” For the entire weekend the White House staff was decorating the executive mansion for the holidays, on Tuesday, Nov. 29 Michelle presents the finished product to the press and public. Then Thursday, Dec. 1, the Obamas will light the National Christmas Tree in the Ellipse.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

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

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Melania Trump redefining the role of the first lady away from the White House

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.