As Donald Trump continues (in his preferred business jargon) to mount a “hostile takeover” of the US presidency, voters are beginning to imagine what a Trump presidency would look like. One person who would play a large role is prospective First Lady Melania Trump. Melania, Trump’s third wife, has not had a large public profile to date — besides her successful modeling career and as a designer of a celebrity jewelry line. But as a foreign-born beauty, her position might be similar to that of Teresa Heinz Kerry during John Kerry‘s run for president. (Despite many accomplishments and great philanthropy, Teresa did not help Kerry’s chances.) Melania Trump has mostly stayed in the background — but how does she compare to former first ladies?
Melania Trump is just 45, but she’d hardly be the youngest first lady. Jackie Kennedy was only 31, and Frances Folsom Cleveland takes the prize having been just 21 when she married President Grover Cleveland in the White House in 1886. (Note: there is no guarantee a Trump presidency won’t include a 20-year-old first lady — it’s just that he’d probably start his first term with his current wife.) Melania Trump is very familiar with much of what a first lady does. She’s already deeply engaged in charitable initiatives. And she knows some former first ladies she can call in a pinch: Bill and Hillary Clinton were guests at Donald and Melania’s 2005 wedding. Long in preparation for the role, Melania told the New York Times back in 1999 (she was just 26) that as a first lady she’d be “very traditional, like Betty Ford or Jackie Kennedy.” Betty Ford took pills and drank to excess to get through the job. Jackie Kennedy’s husband cheated on her pathologically.