A look into the 2020 First Lady candidates


Zach Yearwood, Managing Editor

With fewer than 60 days until the 2020 Presidential Election, we know—for the most part—where both major party presidential candidates stand on issues and what they want to accomplish once they are inaugurated. But what about the First Lady candidates, Melania Trump and Jill Biden?

In recent history, it has become a norm for the First Lady of the United States to have a cause which she promotes—Jacqueline Kennedy focused on the restoration of the White House, both Barbara and Laura Bush promoted childhood literacy and Michelle Obama worked on reducing childhood obesity. Other initiatives have ranged from environmental protection to mental health.

Based on the work both ladies have done as First and Second Lady respectively, here is what we can infer they will work on over the next four years:

Melania Trump

First lady Melania Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion about “Recovery at Work: Celebrating Connections,” in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Now having been in the White House for almost four years, Melania Trump has largely concentrated her efforts on her BE BEST campaign. Its mission is to “focus on some of the major issues facing children today, with the goal of encouraging children to BE BEST in their individual paths, while also teaching them the importance of social, emotional, and physical health,” according to the White House web page dedicated to the initiative.

Trump has travelled to multiple different countries to promote the BE BEST campaign, including the United Kingdom, Japan, India and several countries in Africa. On these trips, she visited schools, hospitals 

 BE BEST has three main areas of focus: well-being, online safety and opioid abuse.

The well-being pillar is defined as, “promoting values such as healthy living, encouragement, kindness, and respect,” in order to “help prepare children for their futures.” Online safety looks to target cyber-bullying and “learning positive online behaviors early on.”

The third and final pillar of BE BEST looks to tackle the country’s opioid epidemic. In 2018, Congress passed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act which received overwhelming bipartisan support. The act has several provisions to try to curb the causes of opioid addiction including one making it a crime for pharmaceutical companies and doctors to participate in kickbacks—payments made for prescribing drugs.

Jill Biden

FILE – In this Sept. 1, 2020, file photo Jill Biden, wife of Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, walks past a dry erase board in a classroom that reads “Shortlidge Welcomes Dr. Biden,” as she tours the Evan G. Shortlidge Academy in Wilmington, Del. In an election year where reopening schools shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic is emerging as a flashpoint, Jill Biden is increasingly drawing on her experience in the classroom to empathize with parents struggling to cope with the shift to virtual learning. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Although she has not officially announced any initiatives like Melania Trump’s BE BEST, Jill Biden’s career path and tenure as Second Lady can point to what she plans to focus on if her husband wins the election.

In an interview with CNBC, Jill Biden said one of her primary focuses as first lady would be education. “Education would be right up there—and military families. I’d travel all over this country trying to get free community college,” she said. “We need good reading programs, and we need equity in schools. We’re competing in this global market, and the U.S.’s standing has got to be better.”

Dr. Biden, as she prefers to be called, began her career teaching and has a doctoral degree in educational leadership, so it makes sense that education is among the former Second Lady’s top priorities.

“During her time as Second Lady, Biden worked to “bring attention to the sacrifices made by military families, to highlight the importance of community colleges to America’s future, and to raise awareness around areas of particular importance to women including breast cancer prevention, all while continuing to teach English full-time at a community college in nearby Virginia,” according to the White House’s website.

Biden also said that if her husband wins the election, she plans on returning to teaching full-time. This would make her the first First Lady to hold a day job while in the White House.


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