Melania Trump Shares Farewell White House Message in Final Tumultuous Days of Husband's Presidency
In prerecorded remarks, she spoke of "love over hatred" and "integrity and values," and she said she grieved the hundreds of thousands of Americans killed by the novel coronavirus just as she was grateful for so many doctors and nurses and others working to save lives.
"I have been inspired by incredible Americans across our country who lift up our communities through their kindness and courage, goodness and grace," Mrs. Trump said. "The past four years have been unforgettable. As Donald and I conclude our time in the White House, I think of all of the people I have taken home in my heart and their incredible stories of love, patriotism and determination."
As was true of the last four years as first lady, her style was a contrast to that of her husband — who in his final days as president has found himself with a record low approval rating and shut out of his favorite social media platform after inciting a deadly riot at the Capitol.
And as ever, there were many things the first lady did not say.
She spoke of unity over division and of the breakthroughs of the coronavirus vaccine, and she condemned violence in broad terms.
She mentioned the president once but did not touch on his unprecedented second impeachment after the Capitol rioting or his upcoming Senate trial or his months-long campaign to overturn the election.
Unlike a statement last week in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection, the first lady, 50, didn't reference "salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me," in what seemed a veiled reference to a key former aide who has since become a loud critic publishing intimate details of their work together.
(The tone of Mrs. Trump's initial riot statement drew headlines of its own. Her longtime spokeswoman also resigned after the violence.)
On Monday she talked instead of the country, of coming together, of what she will not forget about the White House.
She talked of her children's welfare initiative "Be Best," which has been among her primary focuses as first lady.
"When I think about these meaningful experiences, I'm humbled to have had the opportunity to represent a nation with such kind and generous people," she said Monday.
The awareness-raising campaign saw Mrs. Trump travel to Africa and connect with medical professionals and children's advocates. But the work has also been criticized as lightweight, intended more as a spotlight than a set of solutions to problems such as cyberbullying and the opioid epidemic.
In the days before her final speech, Mrs. Trump looked back on both "Be Best" and her work decorating and refurbishing the White House, which she said was another cherished duty.
"When I came to the White House, I reflected on the responsibility I have always felt as a mother to encourage, give strength and teach values of kindness. It is our duty as adults and parents to ensure the children have the best opportunities to lead fulfilling and healthy lives," Mrs. Trump said in her farewell address on Monday. "The passion for helping children succeed has driven my policy initiatives as first lady. I launched 'Be Best' to ensure that we as Americans are doing all we can to take care of the next generation."
"It has been an honor to represent American people abroad," she said, adding, "As I say farewell to my role as first lady, it is my sincere hope that every American will do their part to teach our children what it means to be best."
"The promise of this nation belongs to all of us," the first lady said. "Do not lose sight of your integrity and values. Use every opportunity to show consideration for another person and build good habits into our daily lives. In all circumstances, I ask every American to be an ambassador of 'Be Best.' To focus on what unites us, to raise above what divides us, to always chose love over hatred, peace over violence and others before yourself."
RELATED VIDEO: Secret Service Denies Report Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Refused to Let Agents Use Their Restrooms
"No words can express the depth of my gratitude for the privilege of having served as your first lady," Mrs. Trump said, concluding her speech.
Neither she nor her husband is expected to attend the inauguration of successor Joe Biden, in a highly unusual break from tradition.
What's more, according to CNN, she has not led incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden on a tour of the White House. (A spokeswoman for the first lady did not immediately respond to a question about this.)
The Trumps will head to their private Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, once his presidency ends Wednesday.