NEW YORK: She is as calm and thoughtful as her father is strident and impetuous. She is Ivanka Trump, and the distance she has taken from her father Donald has earned her both the respect of Democrats and the head-scratching of analysts.
So the Republican candidate shocked the nation by saying he might not recognize the results of the presidential election if he loses? Ivanka, the model-turned-business-executive, insists “he’ll accept the outcome either way.”
So Donald Trump is caught bragging in lewd terms that he can do whatever he wants to women, then insists this was only “locker-room talk”? His daughter calls the comments “inappropriate and offensive” and admits that her father’s words can be “uncomfortable for us.”
Ivanka, soon to turn 35, is still clearly her father’s protegee. He has been unstinting in his praise for his glamorous offspring, a graduate of the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Trump counts on her to attract young and female voters.
In introducing her father at the Republican convention in July, Ivanka bragged about his “strength” and his “kindness and compassion.”
But she also knows when to step back.
Having grown up in the spotlight from an early age, at a time when her father’s extramarital affairs filled the tabloid press, Ivanka knows how to tend to her own image — and that of the clothing line that bears her name.
Far from the Republican line
Her Twitter and Instagram accounts help nourish her brand, celebrating women who juggle family life and work — with impeccable style — as does a book she plans to publish next year.
They portray an ideal family: her husband Jared Kushner, her “biggest fan,” for whom she converted to Judaism, and their three children, aged five, three and six months.
She has drawn on her family experiences to distinguish herself during the campaign, quietly urging her father to make promises far removed from Republican orthodoxy, such as a call for six weeks of paid maternity leave and for childcare tax deductions.
Beyond that, Ivanka insists, she does not delve deeply into politics, unlike her brothers and husband. “I am not the campaign mastermind, as people love to portray and speculate,” she recently told MSNBC television.
But if she has edged away from her father at times in an effort to “salvage her brand,” as The New Yorker magazine has suggested, the balancing act has not been easy.
“Her quest to float along empowered but unsullied beside her father throughout this increasingly ugly campaign has been getting harder and harder,” it added.
A ‘together’ woman
Her reserve, in any case, has earned her a certain degree of respect in the opposing camp.
When, at the end of their second televised debate on October 9, the moderator pressed Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to cite at least one quality in their opponent, Clinton said, without hesitation: “His children are incredibly devoted and able.”
It was an indirect homage to Ivanka, who is a long-standing friend of Chelsea Clinton, the candidate’s daughter.
Even the caustic and strongly left-leaning film director Michael Moore, who just released a film strongly supportive of Clinton, seems to appreciate the young Trump. In an open letter posted on his website, he describes her as a “brilliant” and “very smart and together woman” — the only person capable, he said, of intervening to stop her father’s quixotic campaign.
For Sam Abrams, a political scientist at Sarah Lawrence College and the conservative Hoover Institution, “When you listen to her… she’s not engaged in the mud-slinging the way the others are; she is trying to be more professional, more mature.”
By taking some distance from her father’s positions, she has given herself “quite a few options” for the future, he said.
That future could be in television — she worked on her father’s reality television program “The Apprentice” — or in politics, where Abrams said she could represent values her father could not.
“The question is, what does she want to do? Can she separate herself more from her father? Can she do it on her own? Does she want to?” the analyst said.
If Donald Trump loses in November as badly as some polls predict, Abrams added, the Republican Party may be in for a prolonged period of self-examination over “what it is and what it stands for.”
So “there is no rush,” he said. “Hillary is the living proof that you can be at it for years.”