First lady Melania Trump hit the campaign trial for the first time since 2019, traveling to a town in battleground Pennsylvania on Tuesday to sharply attack Democrats and the media in her first solo appearance at a Trump rally in 2020.
Former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway accompanied her to the rally in Atglen, Pa., in Chester County, about an hour outside Philadelphia in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump was on the trail himself, hopscotching across the Midwest and stopping in other battleground states, such as Wisconsin and Michigan, as well as Nebraska and Nevada.
The first lady, wearing an Army green Michael Kors trench coat, smiled and waved when her plane, Executive One Foxtrot, arrived in Lancaster, Pa., shortly after 2 p.m. ET, but answered no questions, according to the White House pool report.
Neither she nor Conway were wearing face masks on the tarmac or on the plane.
She spoke before an audience of a few hundred supporters in a converted barn typically used for wedding receptions, with a Trump Make America Great Again sign on one wall.
The majority of people in the audience wore masks, but there was little social distancing.
Before Trump left Washington, a tweet appeared on her FLOTUS account.
"Looking forward to visiting the beautiful state of Pennsylvania today," the tweet read. "The people of that great state know President @realdonaldtrump will always fight to keep Americans safe, secure, & prosperous."
Looking forward to visiting the beautiful state of Pennsylvania today. The people of that great state know President @realdonaldtrump will always fight to keep Americans safe, secure, & prosperous.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) October 27, 2020
Trump, who remains a popular figure with the Trump base, has been off the campaign rally circuit since last summer, in part due to her confinement to the White House for months this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and her own bout with COVID-19, and in part due to her reluctance to make speeches at mass rallies.
But once she began speaking on Tuesday she made it clear once again that she fully shares with her husband and his base the same loathing for rival candidate Joe Biden, for the media, and for Democrats, who she described as "wasting taxpayer dollars on a sham impeachment" while "Donald" worked to protect the country from the killer virus.
That line got major applause and cheers from the rally crowd.
"They cared more about removing our elected president," she said. "Meanwhile, I watched Donald continue to work hard to keep people informed and calm, to protect our economy, and make hard and unpopular decisions to do all he could to keep us all safe. This sham was led by (the) opposition and their display of hatred is on display to this day."
She accused Democrats, with help from the media, of working to "all but destroy our traditional values." She described her husband in effusive terms.
"Before my husband decided to run for president, the media loved him because they saw the man that I see every day – someone tough, successful, and fair. A man who sees potential in everyone he meets, no matter their gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. A man who has a very big heart and a great sense of humor. Donald loves helping people, and he loves seeing those around him, and his country, succeed."
The first lady, who was born and raised in then-Communist Slovenia, denounced Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and what she called his “socialist agenda,” and scorned media coverage of “idle gossip and palace intrigue.”
Trump has been locked in a bitter feud with an ex-friend who published an unflattering tell-all about Trump and released secretly recorded tapes of her conversations with the first lady that captured her exasperation with some aspects of her role.
Trump touted her husband's record on COVID-19 even as he continues to downplay the threat of a virus that has killed more than 226,000 Americans.
“We will triumph over this virus,” she declared.
Of the president's prolific tweeting, she said, “I don’t always agree with the way he says things,” another line that got big laughs from the crowd, according to the pool report.
When she described her husband as “tough, successful and fair,” a woman in the audience yelled out: “And handsome!”
There were shouts of “Four more years!” and “We love you!” during her remarks, which lasted about 15 minutes.
Although she has not been visible on the campaign trail, Trump has not been entirely absent: She appeared with the president at the annual White House Halloween celebrations she organized on Sunday night.
She also was present at the White House when Justice Amy Coney Barrett took the oath of office to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on Monday night.
In September and earlier in October, she appeared at the two campaign debates with the rest of the Trump family.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Melania Trump slashes Dems, media speech first solo 2020 rally