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Melania Trump announces children's initiative amid reports of marital disunity

The president joined the first lady during the Rose Garden ceremony before signing a proclamation declaring Monday "Be Best Day."
by Dartunorro Clark /  / Updated 

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Melania Trump appeared hand-in-hand with President Donald Trump on Monday as she announced the agenda she plans to pursue as first lady amid reports of marital discord between the first couple.

The initiative, called "Be Best," will focus on the "major issues facing children today," the first lady said during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. Those issues include bullying on social media, the opioid epidemic and children's "emotional, social, and physical well-being."

"As a mother and as first lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions," she told the crowd, with the president sitting in the front row.

"If we truly listen to what our kids have to say … adults can provide them the support and tools they need to grow up to be happy and productive adults who contribute positively to society and their global communities."

On Sunday, The Washington Post reported that the president and first lady keep vastly different schedules in the White House and sleep in separate bedrooms, while noting that even when the first couple has appeared together, awkwardness tends to ensue.

"They spend very little to no time together," a longtime friend of the president told the paper.

Earlier Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sidestepped questions from reporters about the first lady pursuing cyberbullying as an initiative given the president's penchant for lobbing attacks on Twitter.

"I think the idea that you’re trying to blame cyberbullying on the president is kind of ridiculous," she told reporters at a briefing. "When it comes to kids, this is something that has been problematic and something that we have seen over the last decade. And the first lady sees it to be an important issue and something she wants to address."

She also called the report of the first couple living separate lives "an outrageous and ridiculous claim."

The president joined the first lady on stage at the Rose Garden ceremony and gave her a kiss on the cheek before signing a proclamation declaring Monday "Be Best Day."

"Melania, your care and compassion for our nation's children, and I say this all the time, inspires us all," Trump said during brief remarks.

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