The Real Reason Melania Trump Canceled Her Rally Appearance

Melania Trump was scheduled to appear in Erie, Pa., on Oct. 20, 2020 alongside Donald Trump as the president continues to hit the campaign trail, despite testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in October 2020, according to the New York Post. However, Melania won't be attending this event after all.

Trump broke the news that he and his wife were ill with the novel coronavirus via Twitter on Oct. 2, 2020, saying: "Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!" While Trump went to the hospital, Melania did not. As Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's chief of staff, told USA Today: "She's still at the White House, she's doing well." While Grisham was optimistic, Melania published an essay on the White House's website on Oct. 14, 2020, explaining that their son, Barron, also contracted the coronavirus. In addition to sharing this news, Melania also listed her symptoms. "[I]t seemed to be a roller coaster of symptoms in the days after," she explained. "I experienced body aches, a cough and headaches, and felt extremely tired most of the time."

It's because of these ongoing symptoms that Melania had to cancel her scheduled appearance. Keep reading to learn more about how Melania's battle with COVID-19 might impact the campaign trail.

Melania Trump has a lingering cough from COVID-19

While Melania Trump shared with readers on the White House's website that she has since tested negative after contracting the coronavirus, she's still suffering from lingering symptoms. As such, Melania will not be appearing in Pennsylvania on Oct. 20, 2020 for her husband's campaign rally.

Monica Alba, a reporter for NBC, confirmed this news on Twitter. "CONFIRMED: Melania Trump will no longer accompany her husband to PA tonight, per her spokeswoman: '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.'"

According to CNN, Melania did not offer an alternative date to make up for her absence in Erie, Pa. A source told the news outlet that she "did not offer options for another campaign appearance, at a rally or otherwise. Let's put it this way, there was no discussion of a rain date." That does make sense, though, since it's unlikely Melania will know precisely when she's going to feel better.

However, the New York Post noted that, apart from her appearance in August 2020 at the Republican National Convention, where she gave a speech in the White House Rose Garden, Melania hasn't appeared on her husband's campaign trail since June 2019.

How COVID-19 interrupted Melania Trump's previous campaign plans

While Melania Trump missed a rally for Donald Trump in Erie, Pa. on Oct. 20, 2020 due to lingering symptoms from the coronavirus, this actually wasn't the first event that got canceled for her because of COVID-19. According to NBC News, Melania was scheduled as the headliner for several "high-profile fundraisers" for President Trump's campaign. The events were set for March 2020, according to the Associated Press, but were canceled as the coronavirus began to spread. These fundraisers would have marked Melania's first return to the 2020 re-election race for her husband.

As NBC noted, the spread of the coronavirus meant that publicity for the presidential race had to go virtual, but Melania opted out of participating in virtual events. Trump himself was hesitant to use virtual means to connect with audiences at first, but did eventually use online platforms.

Melania is scheduled to appear in Nashville, Tenn. for the final presidential debate on Oct. 22, 2020 alongside her husband, according to the AP, but it's as yet unclear if her symptoms will let up. However, even prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus, Melania has been a notably absent figure in her husband's campaigning. What's going on?

Does Melania Trump's absence go beyond the coronavirus?

As Donald Trump continues to stay active in his re-election campaign, first lady Melania Trump has been notably absent. To be fair, it's completely reasonable that someone who contracted the coronavirus would want to stay away from the public and recover. However, even prior to the outbreak of the novel virus, Melania has been less active than previous first ladies.

As NBC News pointed out, even in 2016 during Trump's first presidential run, Melania was seldom seen participating in his campaign and opted instead to stay in New York City with their son, Barron. Meanwhile looking back at President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign, first lady Michelle Obama was very active in his election. She held solo rallies as well as attended events with her husband, NBC noted. The outlet added that first ladies are almost always a major asset to their husbands' campaigns, citing the popularity of Jackie Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Laura Bush, and even current rival, Jill Biden.

According to The Washington Post, Melania seems to struggle in popularity compared to previous first ladies because of her lack of visibility. In June 2018, long before the outbreak of the coronavirus, the outlet wrote: "While most presidential spouses headline hundreds of events, Melania Trump spoke at just a handful. She was completely absent from the campaign trail for months."

In other words, it seems clear that Melania's absence from Trump's campaign trail was in effect long before the coronavirus.