In Campaign and Company, Ivanka Trump Has a Central Role

It was a night to celebrate strong women. Amy Schumer was the host, Caitlyn Jenner was honored and the guests included Arianna Huffington, Madeleine Albright and the actress Reese Witherspoon.

They also included Ivanka Trump.

When the crowd at Glamour’s Women of the Year event on Nov. 9 sat down for dinner at the Rainbow Room, a person at Ms. Trump’s table asked the question that others were no doubt thinking: What would her father, who was being pilloried for remarks that struck many as misogynistic, make of her attending an event like this?

Ms. Trump quickly broke the strained silence by saying that she was her own person. Soon after, she and her friend Wendi Deng — Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife — left.

A spokesman for Ms. Trump said she went home not because she was uncomfortable, but because it was late and she had two small children. But it was an awkward collision of the two worlds she inhabits: One as a 30-something Manhattan socialite and role model to young professional women, the other as Donald J. Trump’s oldest daughter, biggest champion and perhaps most valuable asset.

A lot of women have come and gone over the course of Mr. Trump’s life. But through his two high-profile divorces, numerous public romances and three marriages, Ivanka Trump has remained a constant.

In interviews, the Trumps, their friends and people who have done business with them described Donald’s and Ivanka’s relationship as especially close, with Ms. Trump holding an exalted position in the family, in their company, and even in the campaign.

Among the Trump children, she is the acknowledged favorite: “Daddy’s little girl,” as her older brother Donald Jr. once described her. When Ms. Trump and her father are not together, she said, they speak as often as five times a day.

In the Trump family business, he has given her a level of authority none of his wives, or for that matter executives, have ever had. She handles some of the Trump Organization’s biggest deals, including its acquisition of the Doral Resort in Miami, and its agreement to convert the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., into a luxury hotel.

And with Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, the Slovenian former model, less than comfortable on stage, Ivanka Trump has served as a surrogate political spouse for a candidate who may need one more than anyone else in the race.

Cutting a starkly different image from Mr. Trump’s more combative and impulsive public supporters, like Chris Christie or Sarah Palin, not to mention the candidate himself, Ms. Trump, 34, radiates disciplined poise and practiced reserve. While her father uses Twitter as a grenade launcher, she treats her well-tended social media feeds, which are notably politics-free, as marketing tools for the Trump Organization and her own line of women’s clothing and accessories.

On March 15, with her father in the midst of a political clear-cutting through Florida while facing accusations of stirring up racially charged violence at his rallies, she posted a photograph on Instagram highlighting the @TrumpHotels creative team in Waikiki under a serene image of a woman relaxing in a sun-dappled pool.

It was a fitting image for a devoted daughter who exists as an almost surreally detached counterpoint to her father’s bellicosity, and yet may be his most important ally, particularly if he finds himself facing a Democratic opponent who aspires to be the first female president of the United States.

Ms. Trump tried to do damage control after her father seemed to have made reference to Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle. She was the unlikely star of a CNN town hall program last week with the Trump family, talking about how her father had encouraged and empowered her. And in a recent interview at Trump Tower, Ms. Trump attacked, however gently, her father’s critics.

“What bothers me is how rash people are to make claims as if they knew him and they knew his viewpoint on certain topics,” she said. “My father has an enormous heart and truly loves people — all people.”

Inside her father’s campaign, which has brazenly eschewed the advice of political experts, Ms. Trump is one of a few people who can, on occasion anyway, influence the candidate’s thinking. She failed to persuade Mr. Trump to apologize for accusing Mexico of sending its “rapists” over the border, according to a person close to Mr. Trump who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak for the campaign. But, this person said, she successfully convinced her father to maintain his qualified support for Planned Parenthood in the face of Republican criticism.


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