The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

How Melania Trump is running for crafter in chief

First lady Melania Trump helps decorate cookies during her visit to the Children’s Inn on Valentine’s Day. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Melania Trump is the first lady of the United States (no matter what President Trump’s first wife, Ivana, has to say on the subject). But is Melania also aiming to be the first lady of the glue gun? On Wednesday the first lady made another stop on her crafting tour when she visited patients staying at the Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

There, Trump joined a table of kids who were decorating Valentine’s Day cookies with colorful sprinkles. “Should I start, as well?” she asked a little girl, before enlisting her to help choose which colors to use on a heart-shaped confection. Children staying at the inn are seriously ill, often with rare diseases, and are participating in clinical trials at NIH.

Arts and crafts projects have become a signature of the first lady’s interactions with children. She joined kiddos at a crafts table at the White House Easter Egg Roll last spring. At the unveiling of the White House Christmas decorations, she invited children from Joint Base Andrews to partake in activities that included building gumdrop trees, something that FLOTUS got in on herself. “So you want to show me how to do it?” she asked, after joining a table of students there. Later in the holiday season, she visited a Toys for Tots gift drive, where she helped children decorate greeting cards.

Why so much craftiness? Probably because it’s a comfortable way to connect with kids at such events, and because she doesn’t yet have a signature cause, her activities don’t have to be otherwise on-message. For example, Laura Bush, a teacher who championed literacy, often read at such events. And Michelle Obama, who took up the cause of good nutrition and healthy living, sometimes participated in physical fitness activities with children.

At the Children’s Inn on Wednesday, Trump seemed at ease as she leaned over the colorful cookies, praising the children’s handiwork. “That’s beautiful,” she marveled. She appeared less comfortable at other moments during the visit, including at a Valentine’s gift exchange, where she ended a conversation with a little girl by saying, “I’m going to say hello to some of your colleagues.”

We haven’t heard anything about Trump being a hobbyist crafter herself. (Could FLOTUS be a closet scrapbooker?) But the first lady is certainly a master at crafting her own image.