Is Melania Trump dropping a clue?

Melania Trump on 2005 tape: It was like 2 teenage boys
Melania Trump on 2005 tape: It was like 2 teenage boys

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Melania Trump on 2005 tape: It was like 2 teenage boys 01:04

Story highlights

  • Peggy Drexler: In Anderson Cooper interview, Melania Trump defended her husband's "boy talk" about grabbing women
  • She says Melania Trump's absence from campaign and her remarks about immature husband may be a clue to future

Peggy Drexler is the author of "Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family" and "Raising Boys Without Men." She is an assistant professor of psychology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and a former gender scholar at Stanford University. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Last night, in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Melania Trump came out in staunch defense of her husband, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, telling Cooper that the women who had accused Trump of groping them were lying, and that he'd been "egged on" by ex-"Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush "to say dirty and bad stuff."

For those who somehow missed what this is all about, a recording made in 2005 while Donald Trump and Bush were on the show's bus revealed Trump boasting that he kissed unwitting women and felt free to "grab 'em by the pussy," and unsurprisingly, a maelstrom of denunciations ensued. At the second presidential debate a few days later, Trump of course denied there was any truth in the comments, reiterating that the banter was merely "locker room talk," and that he had never done what he'd bragged about.
    But then a number of women made new allegations, suggesting that, perhaps, he had indeed done those things.
    Melania Trump entire CNN interview (Part 1)
    Melania Trump entire CNN interview (Part 1)

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      Melania Trump entire CNN interview (Part 1)

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    Melania Trump entire CNN interview (Part 1) 10:37
    Some may wonder if Melania Trump is in denial about all this (consider: In the last week alone, seven women have come forward with claims her husband touched them inappropriately), or if perhaps she is only doing what's expected of her. At this point in any presidential race, but perhaps this one in particular, it's not unusual for the candidates and their team — and their spouses -- to stay the course.
    But it's interesting that while Melania Trump has been supportive of her husband — and, indeed, insisted to Cooper that her husband is "...kind. He's a gentleman ... supports everybody ... supports women" — and has echoed his claims that the election coverage is biased and the election itself rigged, she has remained notably removed from the campaign.
    Melania Trump threatens to sue news outlets
    Melania Trump threatens to sue news outlets

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      Melania Trump threatens to sue news outlets

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    Melania Trump threatens to sue news outlets 02:26
    After the tape surfaced, she issued a written statement condemning the comments. Hollywood Life and others wondered if the cheek kiss she allowed her husband after the second debate was as icy as it looked on screen.
    And even as Trump's children and advisers encouraged her to participate in a sit-down interview with her husband to address the recent claims, according to The New York Times, she declined.
    She's never liked the spotlight, sure. She was burned after parts of her speech at the Republican National Convention were revealed to have been cribbed from Michelle Obama's 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. As Vanity Fair put it, she's "never quite warmed up to the role of campaign spouse." Though she is smart, well-spoken, and certainly camera friendly, she has described herself, when it comes to her husband's campaign, as "a mom first."
    Or maybe there's more to it.
    Where is Melania Trump?
    Where is Melania Trump?

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      Where is Melania Trump?

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    Where is Melania Trump? 03:02
    Monday night, although Melania spoke to Cooper on behalf of her husband, it's notable that she did so a mere 48 hours before the final debate — and on her own, without him by her side. Her remarks, too, seemed to make the point that she was standing up just as much for herself; as she told Cooper, she doesn't want anyone's pity. "I'm very strong," she said. "And people — they don't really know me. People think and talk about me like, 'Oh, Melania, oh poor Melania.' Don't feel sorry for me. ... I can handle everything."
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    It's not hard to imagine this as a subtle distancing from her husband, a reinforcement of her own power as a woman more than a wife. And should Trump lose the race, it wouldn't be surprising if Melania distances herself even more.
    Though Trump has campaigned largely on his business prowess and power, on Monday night, Melania described him as, well, quite immature. "Sometimes I say I have two boys at home. I have my young son and I have my husband," she told Cooper.
    Is that what she wants from her husband? Perhaps. Or perhaps it's a preview: Maybe it's not only Republicans seeking to separate their fates from those of Donald Trump.