Melania Trump donned a sleek black dress to accompany her husband, President Donald Trump, to Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday for the final presidential debate after recovering from her lingering COVID-19 symptoms.
The couple put on an affectionate display as they held hands and smiled while boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House ahead of the event held at the Curb Event Center.
Melania, who has yet to hit the campaign trail following her speech at the Republican National Convention, cut a stylish figure in her sleeveless Christian Dior frock, which she paired with a slim black belt that cinched her waist.
The 50-year-old First Lady paired the minimalist midi frock with class black pumps and a pair of oversized black sunglasses.
Melania and President Trump held hands as they walked across the South Lawn of the White House with smiles on their faces.
They were still holding hands when they stepped off Marine One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and walked across the tarmac to board Air Force One.
The trip was the first time Melania has been out publicly since she was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month – just after the last time her husband met Joe Biden in debate.
Trump and Joe Biden meet face-to-face at a distance Thursday in their final match-up in an already angry contest that the president has threatened to blow up even further by launching a series of attacks on the former vice president’s son.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump held hands as they headed to Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday for the final presidential debate
The smiling couple put on an affectionate display as they walked across the South Lawn of the White House
It is the final debate of the election – the previous one got scratched after Trump refused to take part in a ‘virtual’ format after getting the coronavirus – and represents an opportunity with dwindling time for the president to try to reset the race.
Trump hoped he could throw his rival off balance and demonstrate that his mind is ‘shot’ by repeatedly attacking and interrupting him during the first debate in Cleveland. But Biden ended up getting a slight bump in national polls taken afterward.
Now, the president has telegraphed he will accuse his rival of ‘corruption’ just like he has at his campaign rallies leading up to Thursday – and will not hold back from torching Hunter Biden after the release of emails that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani put out and said came from Hunter’s laptop.
Trump complained when town hall interviewer George Stephanopoulos didn’t bring up Hunter during his TV talk with Biden last week.
New changes imposed by the bipartisan debate commission will silence the opposite candidate’s microphone during opening statements, after widespread denunciations of the first encounter. But they will each be free to interject later in the debate.
The president’s combative stance was on display with an interview he taped with CBS ’60 Minutes’ Sunday, where he complained to interviewer Lesley Stahl after she asked if he was ready for ‘tough questions.’
‘But you’re okay with some tough questions?’ she asked him.
‘No I’m not,’ he replied.
Trump has used prior debates for theater, following 2016 rival around the stage in 2016. Clinton said he ‘literally stalked me.’ Trump’s team also brought former Bill Clinton rape and sexual assault accusers to the debate in a play to get inside his opponents’ head.
This time, Trump says he’ll bring up Hunter Biden, after days of disclosures from Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Biden sent a signal of his own – blowing up at a reporter who asked him about the subject several days ago. On Wednesday, he teed off when a local Wisconsin reporter asked him about it in a TV interview. ”This is the same garbage Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s henchman, it’s a last-ditch effort in this desperate campaign to smear me and my family,’ Biden said.
Trump can also use the Hunter saga to point to China – a country he repeatedly accuses of bringing the ‘plague’ into the U.S. He named China as the nation’s top adversary on ’60 minutes.’
Most political observers agree the pressure is on Trump to get something out of the debate. Biden’s leads have been durable, and millions of his supporters have already voted. He also has an advertising advantage on air, with more money in the bank, after the Trump campaign blew through the more than $1 billion it raised since 2017.
Trump was holding a fundraiser in Nashville just five hours before the debate is set to start.
Biden’s national lead is up to 8 percentage points in the Real Clear Politics Average. Analyst Charlie Cook suggests observers look to Senate races for the real ‘drama.’ A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday had the two men tied in Texas, 47-47.
Trump has softened up the ground by going after moderator Kristen Welker. But he is still likely to face follow up questions from the first debate and town hall about the coronavirus (with more than 1,200 U.S. deaths reported Wednesday alone), and his tax returns, which got leaked to the New York Times.
A Times follow-on report this week revealed Trump’s company had an undisclosed bank account in China.
Biden has struggled when pressed on whether he supports court packing, but may have found his answer in his 60 Minutes interview, saying he would appoint a bipartisan commission to study court reforms.
Melania looked sleek in a sleeveless Christian Dior frock and black pumps
It was Melania’s first public outing since she recovered from COVID-19
Fans took pictures and waved American flags as they stepped out of the White House
Melania reached for her husband’s hand before boarding Marine One together
As for the first lady, she had canceled her trip to Pennsylvania on Tuesday night to campaign with President Trump hours before she was due to travel, citing a ‘lingering cough’ after her battle with COVID.
‘Mrs. Trump continues to feel better every day following her recovery from COVID-19, but with a lingering cough, and out of an abundance of caution, she will not be traveling today,’ her chief of staff Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
Tuesday’s campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, was to be her first public appearance since her bout with coronavirus.
President Trump was asked how she was doing when he did a telephone interview with ‘Fox & Friends’ on Tuesday morning.
At one point, Melania affectionately rested her hand on President Trump’s lower back
The First Lady had a smile on her face as she turned her head to speak to her husband
Melania was beaming as Trump gave one last wave before boarding Marine One
‘She’s doing great,’ he said.
Melania has a limited campaign schedule ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
The First Lady spoke on the second night of the Republican National Convention from the White House Rose Garden, but that was her last public campaign event this year.
She was also diagnosed with COVID-19 at the same time as the president, but recovered in the White House residence, using rest and vitamins.
Melania announced last week she had recovered from the virus.
The couple was still holding hand when they stepped off Marine One at Joint Base Andrews
The wind blew through Melania’s hair as they walked across the tarmac to board Air Force One
President Trump held up his fist to fans as Melania waved in the background
Melania gave one last wave as her husband entered the door of the aircraft
Unlike the president, she didn’t check into the hospital after her diagnosis with COVID. She said she had minimal symptoms but admitted it hit her like a ‘roller coaster.’
She also said she treated herself with a ‘natural route’ — opting for vitamins and healthy food — indicating she did not take a heavy course of medication as the president did for his illness.
‘I was very fortunate as my diagnosis came with minimal symptoms, though they hit me all at once and it seemed to be a roller coaster of symptoms in the days after,’ she wrote in an essay published on the White House’s website.
‘I experienced body aches, a cough and headaches, and felt extremely tired most of the time. I chose to go a more natural route in terms of medicine, opting more for vitamins and healthy food.’