WHAT A SURPRISE: Seventy-two hours after First Lady Melania Trump kicked off a firestorm by wearing a seemingly tone-deaf message emblazoned on her jacket to visit migrant children depart from their families in McAllen, Texas, she tried to change the narrative with a surprise visit at a Students Against Destructive Decisions event in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. Pundits and late-night comedians may note that FLOTUS ducked into SADD’s Be the Change 2018 annual conference.
A few hundred SADD students were singing songs from “Hairspray,” “High School Musical” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” before her arrival in the ballroom at the Sheraton Tysons Hotel, according to a pool report from CNN’s Kate Bennett. Appearing to be all business, the First Lady wore a white button-down shirt and a black pencil skirt with navy stripes. She wore Christian Louboutin shoes. Her entrance was greeted with loud cheers from the SADD crowd, according to the pool report. “As a mother of a young son, I think youth leadership programs for children can be such a positive influence for the future.” FLOTUS said.
She also took the opportunity to plug her Be Best program, which was announced a few weeks ago and aims to ensure the wellbeing of children among other issues. Kindness, compassion and positivity were her key points. She said she shares in the SADD message “to confront the risks and pressures you are challenged with every day.”
The First Lady has faced her own challenges in recent days after wearing a $39 Zara jacket with “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” emblazoned on the back during a visit to migrant children in Texas. Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, cared enough to join a rally there Saturday and to initiate a 24-hour fast with members of her political family and celebrities like Alec Baldwin. The timing of the hunger strike was meant to symbolize the reported 2,400 children who have been separated from their families — of which 522 have been reunited.
Prior to taking the stage Sunday, Trump met with a more intimate group from SADD’s student leadership to learn more about their efforts and to lend a hand in making blankets that will later be given to a teen shelter Second Story, according to an account relayed to the pool reporter by her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham.
Sunday night’s surprise sounded to be decidedly more well-received than Thursday’s unannounced visit to McAllen, Texas. The SADD crowd erupted into cheers and chanted “USA,” “USA,” before the First Lady exited the stage to join her motorcade for the 12-mike trek back to the White House.
Until 1997, the organization was known as Students Against Driving Drunk. Be the Change, a four-day event, attracts 500 middle school and high school students and encourages them to be leaders and live drug-free lives.