Donald 'did not insult Mexicans', says wife Melania Trump

Donald Trump's wife Melania (right), daughter Ivanka (second right), and sons Eric (right), and Donald Jr at a campaign event.
Donald Trump's wife Melania (right), daughter Ivanka (second right), and sons Eric (right), and Donald Jr at a campaign event.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Donald Trump's wife Melania, in a rare TV interview, on Wednesday defended her husband's fiery rhetoric on immigration, denying the Republican White House frontrunner had painted Mexican migrants as rapists.

The Slovenian-born former fashion model defended her husband's incendiary call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, first made in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks.

"What he said is it will be temporary and it's not for all the Muslims," Melania Trump told MSNBC. "We need to screen who's coming to the country."

And she denied Trump had insulted the Mexican people when he notoriously claimed in his announcement speech last year that the country was sending crime, drugs and rapists across the border.

"No, I don't feel he insulted the Mexicans. He said illegal immigrants. He didn't talk about everybody," said the 45-year-old.

Trump's third wife, who is now a US citizen, said she had scrupulously respected immigration laws since moving to the country 20 years ago.

"I followed the law the way it's supposed to be," she said. "You should not just say, 'Okay, let me just stay here and whatever happens, happens.'"

Two years after moving to the United States in 1996, Melania married the real estate mogul a quarter century her senior, drawn to him, she said, by "his mind."

"Amazing mind and very smart. Very charming. Great energy," she said.

While Trump's grown children have repeatedly joined him on the campaign trail, his wife only recently stepped up her appearances at his side - including at victory parties in New Hampshire and South Carolina - saying she prefers to stay focused on raising their nine year-old son Barron.

"It's amazing what's going on," she said in Wednesday's interview.

"We're having fun. I like to keep it - life as normal as possible for my son and I'm a full-time mom.

"I love it so I decided not to be in the campaign so much but I support my husband 100 per cent."

While she has kept a low public profile, Melania said she followed the news "from A to Z," and was on the phone with her husband several times a day.

"Do I agree all the time?" she said. "No, I don't, and I tell him that. I tell him my opinions. I tell him what I think. Sometimes he listens, sometimes he don't."