Donald Trump Defends 'Popular' Melania Despite Worst Ever First Lady Rating in Poll

Donald Trump praised his wife Melania as "so popular with the people," despite having the worst first lady rating in polling history.

The latest CNN/SSRS poll found 47% of people had an unfavorable opinion of Melania Trump between January 9 and 14th—the worst rating during her term as first lady.

It is also the worst rating for any first lady at the end of her term in polling history.

It comes as the outgoing president defended his wife during a farewell speech at Joint Andrews Base in Maryland.

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First Lady Melania Trump attends an event to mark National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month in the East Room of the White House on September 3, 2020 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Trump spoke to crowds after leaving the White House on Marine One and before he boarded Air Force One to travel to Florida.

He will end his term at Mar-a-Lago golf club, breaking with tradition by not attending his successor President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony.

During his speech, Trump thanked his family for their hard work over the past four years before turning to his wife.

He said: "Our first lady has been a woman of great grace and beauty and dignity. And so popular with the people, so popular with the people. In fact, honey would you like to say a few words?"

Melania then said to the crowd: "Being your first lady was my greatest honor. Thank you for your love and support. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. God bless you all. God bless your families and God bless this beautiful nation. Thank you."

Despite his claims that Melania was "so popular", the last CNN/SSRS poll of Trump family favorability found Melania has the worst popularity rating for a first lady in polling history, setting an all-time record that dates back to Pat Nixon in 1973.

The only other first lady to record a net popularity rating below 40 points was Hillary Clinton in January 2001. But even Clinton, who was actively campaigning for her future New York senate seat at the time, still managed a 52 percent favorable versus 39 percent unfavorable ratings. By comparison, Melania's final 47 percent unfavorable rating is the highest of her entire tenure in office.

The first lady's staggering unfavorable rating from a near-majority of Americans is unprecedented in a role that historically made it very difficult to become disliked. Aside from a few gaffes related to her "#BeBest" anti-bullying social media campaign, Melania has remained largely out of the public eye.

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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump depart the White House on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Eric Thayer/Getty Images

As the CNN pollsters note, it is unclear how much the poor exit poll numbers have to do with her relatively quiet presence in the White House compared to President Donald Trump, who leaves office with a historically dismal 34 percent approval rating. But previous spouses of presidents who were very unpopular when they left office, such as Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter, were able to walk away with their public reputation largely unaffected by their husbands' lack of popularity.

Despite President Carter having a 32 percent approval rating in August 1979, Rosalynn Carter held a positive rating from 59 percent of the country. Donald Trump is set to leave office with a similar 34 percent approval rating, but his first lady was not able to stave off widespread criticism.

Laura Bush and Michelle Obama left office with some of the highest favorable ratings of first ladies in the modern era. Bush even recorded a 67-percent favorable rating that was nearly twice that of husband George W. Bush in January 2009. Obama did not have a higher rating than her husband in January 2017, but still received a 69 percent favorable rating—27 points higher than her successor, Melania.

None of the aforementioned women in the first lady role were able to top Barbara Bush's January 1993 favorable rating of 85 percent. Incoming first lady Jill Biden's most recent favorable rating was 58 percent versus an unfavorable rating of 29 percent.

Trump is set to leave the White House with a 42 percent favorability rating and 47 percent unfavorability. Those are record low numbers compared to any time period over the past four years.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for additional remarks Tuesday afternoon.