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Melania Trump announces push to woo gay conservatives during Mar-a-Lago fundraiser, organizer says

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(WASHINGTON) — Former first lady Melania Trump at a fundraiser on Saturday announced a major voter outreach initiative to garner conservative gay and lesbian support for former President Donald Trump’s 2024 bid — in an effort to boost his standing with a group that, more broadly, voted against him in 2020 — organizers of the fundraiser told ABC News.

After having mostly stayed away from her husband’s campaign trail this cycle, Melania Trump made a rare appearance at a political event Saturday night, speaking as a guest of honor at the fundraiser at the Trumps’ Mar-a-Lago Club for Log Cabin Republicans, the largest conservative LGBTQ+ organization in the United States.

Addressing conservative LGBTQ+ supporters at the sold-out fundraiser, Melania Trump said money raised that night — more than $1 million, according to organizers — would go toward an effort to deploy resources to key swing states in educating voters about conservative LGBTQ+ causes and delivering pro-Trump messages among gay and lesbian communities, said Bill White, one of the co-hosts and a longtime friend of Donald Trump.

Richard Grenell, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany and former acting director of national intelligence under Trump, becoming the first openly gay person to hold a Cabinet-level position in the U.S., will be spearheading the new Log Cabin Republicans initiative with help from White, a former president of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, and White’s husband, Bryan Eure, a senior vice president at insurance brokerage firm Willis Towers Watson.

This initiative is expected to be one of Melania Trump’s top priorities, White said, and she is set to support it with “upcoming activities” — which would mark a notable contrast given how little Melania Trump has campaigned on behalf of her husband in either 2016 or 2020. (The Trump campaign did not provide more details about possible events for conservative gay and lesbian voters.)

“They hear us, they see us, and they love us,” White said of the Trumps’ message to Log Cabin Republicans on Saturday night.

The announcement of Melania Trump’s involvement with the Log Cabin Republicans initiative comes after months of her staying away from the public spotlight as her husband’s third presidential bid heats up. She has, however, maintained some of her own initiatives — speaking at a naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens in December; some charity work like with a local foster care organization in 2021; and launching a line of digital collectibles, a line of Christmas ornaments and, more recently, a Mother’s Day-themed necklace for $245.

The last two times she was seen publicly on the trail were at a major Palm Beach, Florida, fundraiser for Donald Trump and Republicans earlier this month, where organizers said they raised more than $50 million; and last month at a Palm Beach polling location where the former president voted in the Florida Republican primary.

White told ABC News the initiative for gay Republicans is expected to involve “digital footprints in all of the key swing states,” as well as “extensive research and development into who we need to be communicating with and how we will communicate with them” — an effort to persuade the gay and lesbian community in America that “Donald Trump is the best choice for all of us.”

Polling shows that he has notably lagged with those voters in the past. Rival Joe Biden won self-identified members of the LGBTQ+ community over Trump, 64-27%, exit polls showed. But that was a slight improvement for Trump compared with 2016, when he got only 14%.

While the former president differentiated himself from some other leading conservatives in embracing gay people, his anti-trans positions have drawn broader outcry from the LGBTQ+ community.

White claimed the pro-Trump voices within the LGBTQ+ community have grown exponentially since Donald Trump’s first presidential bid, noting efforts by national-level pro-Trump LGBTQ+ coalitions.

“We are gay Republicans and we are voting for Trump,” he said. “He is the best and only choice in this election for our health, prosperity, safety and security.”

Parts of Melania Trump’s speech at the fundraiser Saturday night will be put out in Log Cabin Republicans’ digital ads, White said.

“We are so grateful to Mrs. Trump for her strategic leadership and making this initiative one of her top priorities for the 2024 presidential campaign and for the successful election of her husband,” he said.

Ahead of the fundraiser on Saturday morning, Grenell, another gay conservative ally, on X threw support behind Donald Trump as “the best candidate for our safety, security and prosperity.”

“He sees you as 100% equal – it’s up to you to be responsible, hardworking and successful,” he continued. “Anyone telling you that you are oppressed in America or that you need special side agreements because you’re gay is only seeking to control you.”

Over the years, both Melania and Donald Trump have maintained a close relationship with Log Cabin Republicans. In 2021, Melania Trump headlined their annual gala at Mar-a-Lago and received the group’s Spirit of Lincoln award for her role in “helping children reach their full potential” and “championing a more inclusive Republican Party.”

In 2022, Donald Trump headlined Log Cabin Republicans’ Spirit of Lincoln gala held at Mar-a-Lago, where he told the audience, “We are fighting for the gay community, and we are fighting and fighting hard.”

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