Since Donald Trump announced in June he was making a run for the White House, his wife Melania Trump has been conspicuously absent from the campaign trail.
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Sitting beside her husband, Melania Trump told Barbara Walters in an interview for ABC News' “20/20” that the reason she has stayed behind is to be with their 9-year-old son Barron at home in New York City.
“It’s my choice not to be there [on the campaign trail],” Melania, 45, told Walters. “I support my husband 100 percent, but ... we have a 9-year-old son together, Barron, and I’m raising him.”
“This is the age he needs a parent at home,” she added.
When Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul and former reality TV series host, told his wife he wanted to run for president, Melania said they discussed it at length and she encouraged him to run.
“I encouraged him because I know what he will do and what he can do for America,” she said. “He loves the American people and he wants to help them.”
But while she’s not out on the trail, Melania said she stays involved in her husband’s campaign behind-the-scenes. She told Walters she shares her opinions with him when he has participated in the GOP debates.
“She’s told me a couple of times during the debate, she was very happy with my performances, if you would want to call them a performance,” Donald Trump said. “But she said, ‘you could tone it down a little bit on occasion,’ which I understand.”
Melania, who was born in Slovenia, is Donald Trump’s third wife. He had previously been married to Ivana Zelnícková until they divorced in 1992, and then he married actress Marla Maples a year later until they called it quits in 1999. He and Melania were married in 2005, and after 10 years together, the couple says they see each other as equals.
“We have a very, very -- pretty much equal relationship,” Donald said.
But being the wife of a presidential candidate isn’t easy. Donald Trump has come under fire on the campaign trail and at the GOP debates for his views on immigration and for making disparaging remarks about women, including commenting on GOP rival Carly Fiorina’s looks.
Watching her husband be criticized is “unpleasant,” Melania said. “But I know I can handle it.”
The biggest untruth about her husband, she said, is the perception that he’s “nasty.”
“He’s not,” Melania said. “He has a big heart and [a] very warm heart. You see who he is on the campaign trail all the time and on television, and I think -- you know America needs a strong leader and a tough leader and [he] knows what he’s doing.”