Melania Trump’s spokeswoman defended the first lady’s “Be Best” program from the often-heard criticism that the anti-bullying effort would be better directed at her combative husband.
Spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham appeared on CNN Saturday to promote Melania Trump’s plans to take her “Be Best” initiative on the road during a three-state tour, its first unveiling for a U.S. audience. The first lady plans to travel to Oklahoma, Washington state and Nevada on March 4 and 5.
The first lady’s signature White House initiative seeks to address the well-being of children, social media use and opioid abuse.
“Whether it is social media and technology or drug and alcohol abuse, children in our country and around the world are faced with many challenges,” she said in a press release.
“Through ‘Be Best’ I will continue to shine a spotlight on the well-being programs that provide children the tools and skills required for emotional, social and physical well-being and promote successful organizations, programs, and people who are helping children overcome some of the issues they face while growing up in the modern world.”
Trump unveiled the “Be Best” campaign last year. She billed her first major solo trip to Africa last October as its debut, and Grisham said the program’s U.S. rollout will reach out to school children of varying ages.
“She will be visiting three classrooms, pre-k, fifth grade, second grade classrooms. This is an award winning school, and talking about the curriculum and making good choices, comes along with the well-being portion of ‘Be Best’,” the spokeswoman told CNN.
“She knows kids have potential for all age groups. We’re trying to make sure with each stop, she’s touching as many children of as many ages as she can.”
Grisham said the first lady also will spend time at a Seattle tech company that has created “innovative apps … because it is not just about online bullying, it is about being safe.” And at a town hall in Las Vegas, Melania Trump will take questions during a forum on opioid addiction.
But the first lady’s communications director was challenged about President Trump’s penchant for hurling insults and invective on the campaign trail, via Twitter, and pretty much everywhere else.
“How does she balance her platform against some of the things the president does?” CNN anchor Christi Paul asked.
“I think that, honestly, one thing doesn’t have anything to do with the other, and she is focused on helping children,” Grisham answered.
“She has said many times that her husband is an adult. He is president of the United States and he knows what he’s doing. She’s focused on ‘Be Best,’ focused on helping children. Children are the ones that are impressionable. She’s going to go out and do the best she can to help them succeed.”
The debut of “Be Best” in a handful of African countries last year was roundly criticized over Melania Trump’s choice of attire, including a pith helmet and other neo-colonial garb during her travels.