First lady Melania Trump's favorability rating sinks as child separation crisis rages

The first lady's statement attempting to distance herself from her husband may have been too, little too late

By Joseph Neese

Published June 19, 2018 2:37PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Photo Montage by Salon)
(Getty/Photo Montage by Salon)

First lady Melania Trump's favorability rating has taken a sudden and sharp hit – falling six points, to be exact – just since May, even as she has recovered from a surgery.

Tuesday's down CNN poll numbers come as Trump, who claims to be an advocate of women and children, has been widely criticized for her weak attempt to speak out against her husband's inhumane policy of separating migrant families caught crossing the U.S. - Mexico border.

"Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform," Stephanie Grisham, Trump's communications director, told CNN on Sunday. "She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."

Invoking rhetoric recently used by Samantha Bee, comedian Kathy Griffin, who was previously criticized for posing with a photo of a fake severed head of President Donald Trump, responded by calling Melania Trump a "feckless complicit piece of sh*t."

"Melania Trump's mischaracterization of what's happening — that 'both sides' are responsible and have the power to change it — supports Trump and allows his administration to continue to lie and deflect accountability for a policy they created and have the power to stop," Salon's Rachel Leah writes about the controversy. "Meanwhile, thousands of families and children are in limbo, being used as political leverage by the president and his team to coerce the Democrats into funding his border wall."

Michael Wildes, the immigration attorney who helped Melania Trump emigrate to America, himself spoke out against the Trump administration's policy on "Fox & Friends" Tuesday morning, drawing shocking comparisons between 2018 and both Nazi Germany and the American slave trade.

“When we’re dealing with this challenge, we should not be quarantining our children from parents,” Wildes said. “The inhumanity that we see is reminiscent of detention centers of Nazi Germany, of the slave trade.”

In fact, the zero-tolerance policy is so inhumane that it "goes against the ethos of our founding documents and fathers," Wildes argued.

"And, let’s not forget this problem needs to be fixed because the greatest risk-takers and the greatest entrepreneurs historically have been immigrants this country,” he further explained to the largely-Republican Fox News audience.

In the new CNN poll, Trump falls down to 51 percent from a previous favorable rating of 57 percent. Meanwhile, her unfavorable riding slides up two percentage points from 27 percent to 29 percent.

"Of the 51 percent who have a favorable opinion of the first lady in the new poll, most are white, Republican men who support President Trump – a split of 56 percent to 46 percent, men to women," CNN finds. "The majority of that 51% are also older Americans, 62% of them between the ages of 50 and 64."

Despite her falling poll numbers, the American public still views the first lady in a more favorable light than her husband, President Donald Trump. Fifty-five percent of Americans now view the commander-in-chief unfavorably, while his favorable rating clocks in at 40 percent in CNN's most recent poll of the president.

But on "The View"Tuesday, co-host Meghan McCain predicted a further dip in the polls in the Trumps' future if the crisis at the border is not resolved expeditiously.

"When you’re seeing people like Bill O’Reilly, Ted Cruz, Laura Bush — these are hard-right figures within the party and commentators coming out and saying this is wrong — you’ve got a PR crisis," McCain said.

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Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is the Managing Editor of Salon. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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Border Crisis Donald Trump Immigration Kathy Griffin Meghan Mccain Melania Trump The View