Donald Trump + Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump is her father’s most influential adviser, his most powerful surrogate—and his total opposite.

Politico Magazine

The Politico Mag Profile

By Michael D’Antonio
October 15, 2015

You will not find a wall adorned with framed magazine covers in Ivanka Trump’s office. For that sort of thing you’ll have to visit her father, who can look up from his desk and see himself beaming down from Time and Playboy.

In fact, on the day we met for a conversation about my biography of Donald Trump, Ivanka, 33, had placed a framed article about herself on the floor. That’s not to say that the former model, and current fashion and real estate exec doesn’t revel in her fair share of the spotlight. Ivanka’s face has adorned magazine covers for years, from Seventeen to Shape to Harper’s Bazaar. But, unlike the father, the daughter seems so secure about herself and her prominence that she doesn’t need to brag. As the second-most famous member of a family that all but fetishizes good breeding—brother Donald Jr. calls it the “racehorse theory” of talent—Ivanka seems to be missing the desperation gene that drives her father’s constant pursuit of clicks and clippings.

On the campaign, Ivanka Trump, who grew up playing in her father’s office, is his most influential adviser, his de facto first lady in waiting and his character foil: the cautious, measured power behind the striving, showy candidate. She was the first person Trump mentioned by name when Sean Hannity asked in August, “Is there anyone close to you that you count on most?” and the member of his inner circle whom he consulted during the Megyn Kelly imbroglio. And when Trump announced his candidacy in June, it was Ivanka who introduced her father, while his wife, the former Melania Knauss—a less public person save for her sometimes racy work as a fashion model—stood in the background. As the crowd cheered, the candidate’s daughter flashed a telegenic style that is more polished than her father’s blend of Archie Bunker and Jay Gatsby and far more self-assured. She is the softer, more refined side of the Trump brand and an antidote to the candidate’s abrasiveness.

Father and daughter meet the world with vastly different styles. Where Donald speaks in a stream-of-consciousness manner that sometimes lurches into the absurd and often gets him in trouble, Ivanka is extremely careful in her public statements. She consistently strikes the proper notes when asked about her father, praising his record and avoiding controversy. She acknowledges that her father turns to her for advice and insists that she wouldn’t be where she is in life if her father didn’t “deeply believe in opportunities for women.” Yesterday, she told a forum in Washington that the Kelly-Trump dustup had been “sensationalized” and that “it didn’t interest me that much.” “Look, my father is very blunt,” she said last night during an interview with CNN. “He is not gender specific in his criticism of people.”

Ivanka Trump never dwells on scandal and leaves the details of policy to her father. As she said last night, “I’m a businessperson, not a politician, so I’ll leave politics to other members of the family and the many, many people who are involved in the race on both sides.” At campaign events she speaks almost exclusively about her father’s “brilliance, his passion, his work ethic, and his refusal to take ‘no’ for answer.”

On the rare occasions when Ivanka has plunged deeper into policy, she’s been both pro-women and pro-business. In 2010, she took to Fox News to calmly criticize President Barack Obama and his “anti-business rhetoric,” saying she’s “not overly supportive” of the president. But, like her father, Ivanka is fully capable of veering away from Republican gospel to say, for example—much as her close friend Chelsea Clinton might—that gender-based wage inequality is a serious problem. In 2013, in her most overtly political act prior to her father’s White House bid, she hosted a fundraiser for liberal Democrat Cory Booker’s successful U.S. Senate campaign. Even so, with her father now in the political spotlight, she has dutifully stood by him in even his most out-there moments: When her father was heaped with scorn for his birtherism—even now he won’t admit that Obama is truly an American—she refuted reports that she and her brothers told him to cool it.

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