Next week, First Lady Melania Trump is set to travel to India with President Donald Trump for a two-day visit to the world’s largest democracy, a nation of more than 1.3 billion citizens, many of whom are ardent supporters of the president. The visit will begin with a 14-mile motorcade through crowded streets, culminating in a massive rally at the newly constructed Motera Stadium that is expected to have more than 100,000 people in attendance – the largest rally of Trump’s 2020 campaign. The president and first lady will then visit the Taj Mahal, and then attend various meetings with government officials and business leaders following by a ceremonial dinner. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner are also expected to attend along with the president and first lady.
Visits to India have become somewhat of a tradition among American first ladies, beginning in 1962 with Jackie Kennedy, who spent several days in India with her sister Lee Radziwill, but without her husband John F. Kennedy. Pat Nixon visited the nation for one day during Richard Nixon’s presidency. Rosalynn Carter had an impactful visit along with her husband Jimmy Carter, where she dressed in traditional Hindu garments and toured the country, with a village being named after them, Carterpuri. Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush all visited the country during their tenure as first ladies, and they all took photos in front of the Taj Mahal, forming the beginnings of a tradition. Michelle Obama captivated India by speaking to students, wearing Indian-designed fashion, and engaging in traditional dances.
The US enjoys a long-standing friendship with India, and the current prime minister Narenda Modi is a huge fan, promising the president a throng of supporters along the route and at the rally. The first lady has been a stabilizing force for Trump’s campaign, with Melania withstanding attacks on her and the president with grace and class while focusing on the core issues. Her style is credited one of the primary reasons for gaining the support women backing the president.