WASHINGTON — Melania Trump came armed with surefire applause lines when she stepped up to address a largely female audience that had gathered to celebrate other women.

The first lady showcased the record number of women serving in Congress.

Melania Trump

She said women’s unemployment had hit its lowest level in 65 years, though it has since ticked up slightly.

And she highlighted the more than 2 million women who have joined the workforce since November 2016, when her husband was elected president.

“This is something to celebrate,” Mrs. Trump declared at Thursday’s State Department event, where many of her lines easily could have fit into a campaign stump speech.

But as President Trump shows his eagerness for the coming 2020 re-election battle, less clear is Mrs. Trump’s fervor for joining the effort.

She largely avoided the campaign in 2016, citing her desire to be home for the couple’s young son, Barron, now 12. And spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham predicted that once again, Mrs. Trump “is going to want to be home for her son, no matter his age.”

Recent first ladies have all taken prominent roles in re-election campaigns. People in Trump’s political orbit, for their part, remain skeptical that one of the most private first ladies in modern history would want to take on a big public role in her husband’s bid to win another four years in office.

Even if Mrs. Trump sticks largely to her official role, though, there’s plenty she can do to try to help her husband make a political connection with women, a voting bloc with whom Trump is particularly vulnerable.

Beyond the State Department appearance, Mrs. Trump showed growing ease with her role in the past week as she also made a three-state swing to promote the three pillars of her “Be Best” children’s initiative and accompanied her husband to Alabama to survey tornado damage.

And in the tornado zone, the stiletto-friendly first lady wore sneakers as she played empathetic backup to her husband. She participated in a briefing, joined the president as he greeted relief workers, engaged with victims with him and on her own, and signed autographs.

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