Why Ivanka Trump is her dad’s first lady

Why Ivanka Trump is her dad’s first lady

Ivanka Trump speaks at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C., last week. 
(Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc)
Ivanka Trump speaks at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C., last week. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc)



Ivanka is to Donald Trump as Lisa is to Homer Simpson: brainy, composed, and unflinchingly loyal to her outrageous and unpredictable father.

At least that’s the portrait painted in a Politico article published last week. The article explores the relationship between the Republican presidential front-runner and the daughter who has managed to grow up gracefully under his glaring spotlight.

Last month, the article’s author, Michael D’Antonio, published the biography “Never Enough: Donald Trump and His Pursuit of Success.” Here he draws from his interviews with Ivanka Trump, 33, to examine her effect on The Donald’s campaign.

When Fox News host Sean Hannity asked Donald Trump whom he counts on most, the real estate mogul named Ivanka Trump first. When entangled in yet another web of his own words, this time over questionably misogynistic remarks aimed at Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in August, Donald Trump again invoked his daughter.

“So my daughter Ivanka, who is a terrific person, she came to me and she said, ‘You care so much about women, and you care so much about the whole thing with women’s health issues,’” he said in a profile in the Hollywood Reporter shortly after the controversy erupted. “She said, ‘You are really misunderstood, and you have to get the word out.’”

Privately, Ivanka Trump is said to try to shape her father’s opinions — or at least help him walk them back. New York magazine reported that she allegedly provided him with several statements to backtrack from his anti-immigrant comments, which he nevertheless rejected.

Publicly, however, she remains mum on his gaffes. She shrugged off the Kelly incident as “sensationalized,” saying it “didn’t interest me much.”

Her presence seems to have a humanizing effect on Donald Trump’s image, making his unsavory outbursts easier to swallow. Even those who write him off as a raving bigot would have a hard time denying that he and her mother, Donald’s first ex-wife, Ivana Trump, managed to raise an intelligent, rational, and compassionate young woman.

(Ivanka Trump’s ability to straddle both political parties in her private life adds to this sense of sensibility. D’Antonio points out that she has criticized President Barack Obama on Fox News but also fundraised for New Jersey Senator Corey Booker, a liberal Democrat, and is friends with Chelsea Clinton.)

Having grown up playing in her father’s office, Ivanka Trump now has her own office, just one floor down. By 16 she had launched a modeling career, but pivoted toward business in her 20s, demonstrating sharp judgment, insightful and direct criticism, and a placid demeanor — all in evidence when she joined her father as a judge on his popular reality TV series “The Apprentice.”

She is now an executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization, focusing on Trump hotels and fashion-related enterprises. Her brothers Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump also are officers.

In 2009, Ivanka Trump underwent an Orthodox Jewish conversion for her nuptials to real estate mogul Jared Kushner, who grew up in northern New Jersey and graduated from Frisch. The couple now have two children. Ivanka has spoken about her religious observance and the influence that Judaism has on her as she raises her family.

Familial loyalty is something Ivanka clearly learned during her childhood and adolescence. She introduced her father when he announced his candidacy in June, a duty often assumed by a candidate’s spouse. If the campaign is any indication, she might serve as a de facto first lady in a Donald Trump White House. Trump’s current wife, Melena Knauss, has mostly taken a back seat on the campaign trail thus far.

Perhaps recognizing the scrutiny and obligations that a Trump presidency would inflict on her and her family, Ivanka Trump hedged on a question about whether she is happy about his run for the presidency. Speaking at the Fortune Most Powerful Women summit in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, she said, “As a citizen, I love what he’s doing. As a daughter, it’s obviously more complicated.”

JTA Wire Service

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