Ivanka Trump introduced her father Thursday evening at the Republican National Convention. You never would have known that just that morning, she told Savannah Guthrie on the “Today” show that she felt terrified about speaking “in a stadium like this” and hoped she does “a great job for him.”
Not only did she do an amazing job at the mic, but she did a great one as the chief pitchwoman for Trump to other women; she made him sound like a Democrat.
After a compelling, motivational video biography rolled about Trump’s life and work, the tune “Here Comes the Sun” began — and the accomplished mother of three did indeed beam like the sun as she took the stage and made her father sound, not like the Republican nominee, but a liberal.
She spoke about the gender gap, maternity leave and the fact that 40% of households now have a female breadwinner. She said that “motherhood” is the factor behind the biggest pay gap — and she’s right — and promised that her dad would pass labor reform to protect women. In fact, she promised her father would fight for:
Equal pay for equal work!
Quality child care, affordable and accessible for all!
Policies that allow women to thrive!
Yes, you heard that right. She not only promised liberal policies, but she confessed that “like many of my fellow millennials, I do not consider myself categorically Republican or Democrat.”
But what she says about her father or her own political affiliation has little bearing on what Donald Trump thinks. If you pay attention, you’ll recognize that Ivanka Trump doesn’t endorse her father’s core policies. She doesn’t talk about advocating “building a wall,” “banning Muslims,” “defunding Planned Parenthood” or “repealing Obamacare.”
The reason why you don’t hear her say those things is because she’s a smart businesswoman. And, I suspect, she doesn’t agree with her father on those issues. Yes, she’s an executive in her father’s organization. But she oversees her own clothing empire and a lifestyle website. Her audience is millennial women — specifically, liberal, working, urban millennial women
In fact, as I was waiting for her to take the stage, her latest newsletter hit my inbox at 8:10 p.m., with the subject line “Don’t sweat it.”
In it, she links to “31 pro tips” to help me make my LinkedIn page and “8 ways to Make Your Rental Feel Like Home” — plus links to a dress, a purse and shoes from her line that I can buy. She knows her audience, and she knows the job she had to do Thursday night for her dad — and she walked the tightrope flawlessly.
Ivanka Trump said just enough — effectively to tell the women who were watching, “Don’t sweat it,” you can forget how my dad has treated women in the past and the Republican Party’s horrible record on women’s issues, my father really does care about you.
And at the same time, she seemed to tell her millennial, liberal audience — “Don’t sweat it,” I’m standing here at the RNC, but I’m not really a Republican. I’m a millennial (just like you) and I care about women’s issues. I am also loyal and I love my dad, just like you love yours. She knows her audience so well that within minutes of her leaving the stage, photos of her at the convention were on her homepage with a description and a link: “From the Ivanka Trump collection: Dress coming soon!”
In doing so, she showed us all that she’s not only smart, she’s savvier than you think. But she’s not running for president. Her father is. And as soon as Donald Trump took the mic, the sun set, and the anger and vitriol rose. His daughter’s poise and possibility were gone, and the screaming and the doom and gloom began as “border crossings” and Hillary Clinton’s legacy of “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness” got hammered into the ground.
Ivanka Trump promised her father would fight for policies that help working women and single moms everywhere. Yet her father screamed into the microphone that we can “not afford to be so politically correct anymore.”
She used the words “empathy and generosity,” “kindness and compassion” and described her father as someone whose “sense of fairness” is “colorblind and gender neutral.” Yet Donald Trump doesn’t use those words to describe himself. He is the “law and order candidate” who will “build a great border wall.”
Trump got the biggest cheers when he took Clinton’s “I’m with her” tagline and made it his own — “I’m with you.”
But the line of the night about the potential of a Trump presidency goes to his daughter, when she said, “If it’s possible to be famous and not really well-known, that describes the father who raised me.”
Yes, he is famous. He promises over and over to make America great again. But how he plans to do it — that’s not really very well-known.