How do the wives of the incumbent and potential Presidents measure up? Here’s a brief look at the women behind the successful men — Jill Biden and Melania Trump.
Former Second Lady and incumbent First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden and Mrs. Melania Trump, are often regarded as the steadiest pillars of support for their gaffe-prone, septuagenarian husbands. With latest polls showing Joe Biden leading Donald Trump, there’s a good chance the United States will have a new President and by default, a new First Lady. While it’s not entirely fair to compare two unquestionably different people, it is but natural to want to know how the wives of the incumbent and potential Presidents measure up.
Melania Trump Versus Jill Biden: Who’s The More Lovable First Lady?
Here’s a brief look at the women behind the successful men – Jill Biden and Melania Trump:
Education & Careers
After passing out of high school, Jill Biden briefly studied fashion merchandising and dabbled in modelling. She later enrolled for Majors in English at the University of Delaware and went on to earn two master’s degrees, and a doctorate at the University of Delaware in 2007. An accomplished teacher her whole life, Jill continued to teach even as the Second Lady of the United States. She has stated her resolve to continue her teaching career if her husband is elected.
If we get to the White House, I’m gonna continue to teach. It’s important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions, and lift up the profession.Jill Biden
Watch: Jill Biden’s Full Speech At The DNC 2020
Melania Trump – then Melanija Knavs – was raised in Sevnica, Yugoslavia (now in Slovenia). She studied architecture at the University of Ljubljana before dropping out to pursue a career in modelling, first in her native Slovenia, then in Milan and Paris. Melania had a successful modelling career and appeared on the covers of various magazines such as Vanity Fair, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vogue. She acquired U.S. citizenship in 2006 and in 2010, launched her own jewelry line and high-end caviar-based skincare products.
Watch: Melania Trump’s Transformation
A lifelong educator, Jill Biden has been a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College – the country’s second largest community college – since 2009. In 1993, Jill founded the Biden Breast Health Initiative in Delaware to disseminate awareness on breast health among high school girls. In 2007 she co-founded the Book Buddies program which provides books to children from low-income families. As the Second Lady, she worked alongside President Barack Obama to highlight the importance of community colleges in the country, visiting campuses, meeting teachers, students, and industry representatives on behalf of the administration. Additionally, she co-founded – alongside First Lady Michelle Obama – the “Joining Forces” initiative to highlight the needs of military families, urging Americans to support and engage military families. She has authored three books, including Where the Light Enters (a biography of her relationship with Joe Biden), and two children’s books.
As the Second Lady, Jill Biden worked to highlight the importance of community colleges in the country, visiting campuses, meeting teachers, students, and industry representatives on behalf of the Obama administration.
During her time in the White House, Melania Trump – apart from her impeccable and occasionally controversial sartorial choices – has become known for the BE BEST initiative which focuses on instilling values in children including compassion and patriotism; on promoting positive and respectful online behavior, and supporting families and children affected by opioid dependence. Mrs. Trump also promoted the program abroad during her visit to the United Kingdom and Africa. However, the First Lady faced criticism for her choice of initiative mostly because it was deemed strangely ironical for her to discourage cyber-bullying while her husband Donald Trump freely insulted opponents using Twitter.
Marriage & Relationship
When Jill Taylor Jacobs met Joe Biden in 1975, she was a 24-year-old college senior and he, a 33-year-old U.S. senator and widower with two little boys. They married in 1977, taking along the boys Beau and Hunter on their honeymoon. When daughter Ashley was born in 1981, Jill took a break from work to raise their three children. In their 43 years of togetherness, they’ve been through joyous highs – the inauguration in 2009 and 2013 – as well as devastating lows – the death of their son Beau.
She gave me back my life. She made me start to think my family might be whole again.Joe Biden in his memoir “Promises to Keep”
Publicly, their relationship has been characterized by innumerable gestures of romance and affection, including Joe surprising Jill on Valentine’s Day in 2010 with a commemorative plaque – which read “Joe Loves Jill” – on a tree on the grounds of the vice president’s residence and him playfully nibbling on her finger as she addressed a crowd during a campaign event in Iowa.
Melania Knauss met Donald Trump at a party in New York in 1998. She was then a 28-year-old supermodel and he, a 52-year-old real estate tycoon going through his divorce with second wife Marla Maples. In 2001, Melania moved into his penthouse in Trump Tower, and the pair married in 2005.
With Trump becoming President, their relationship has been under intense media scrutiny, and not always for the right reasons. At the start of the Trump presidency, Melania puzzlingly chose not to move into the White House, remaining instead in New York until son Barron completed his school year. Matters appeared worse when reports of Trump’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels surfaced in 2018, leading Melania to cancel her trip with her husband to Switzerland and arrive separately to his State of the Union address. Besides, it escaped no one’s notice that the couple’s body language – particularly Melania’s – didn’t seem to suggest a happy marriage. More recently, social media went berserk pointing out how, after the first presidential debate of 2020, Melania and Donald coldly rubbed each other’s arms while Jill stepped on to the podium and gave her husband a long, warm hug.
After the first presidential debate of 2020, Melania and Donald coldly rubbed each other’s arms while Jill stepped on to the podium and gave her husband a long, warm hug.
If a First Lady Could be Voted for, Who Would Win?
Well, to begin with, Jill Biden and Melania Trump are like chalk and cheese. While the former is a classic embodiment of the American working woman – industrious, juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, warm, humorous – the latter with her cultivated extravagance and stoic, ice maiden-like persona lacks the accessibility that typically endear First Ladies to the masses. Interestingly, polls indicate that Melania Trump is more popular than her husband. Also, she has sometimes – albeit subtly – appeared to disagree with his divisive, hate-spewing politics. For instance in 2018, she issued a statement expressing concern over the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the Mexico border. Most recently, during her speech at the Republican National Convention, she set herself apart from the other Trumps, speaking compassionately of the American people’s pain on account of COVID-19 – and not the “China Virus” as her husband likes to say – and of healing and mistakes.
Watch: Melania Trump’s Speech At RNC 2020
All the same, it is difficult to shrug off the feeling that a woman like Melania Trump – the vainglorious, aspirational luxury loving inhabitant of a gilded cage – just doesn’t have what it takes to comfort a nation in distress. And to top it, wears her blithe indifference on her sleeve. (sigh. Remember the Zara jacket emblazoned with “I really don’t care, do you?” she wore on a trip to a migrant child detention center in Texas?) A new tell-all book “Melania & Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with The First Lady” only reinforces these feelings, painting as it does a solidly unflattering portrait of Mrs. Trump. Penned by her former aide and friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the book describes her as self-centered, scheming, and attention-seeking – the gold-digging partner in a transactional marriage in which she gets her security, and her husband, his arm candy.
The First Lady is a significant component of the image of the President. She humanizes the President, making him identifiable as a fellow family man before his voters. Relatability, in other words, is key.
And here, Dr. Jill Biden – loving wife of 43 years, doting mother, grandmother, and successful career woman – wins hands down!