Try to picture this: It’s the year 2028, and there’s another “President Trump” elected, but this is one is named Ivanka.
Okay, 2028 is a very long way off, and this scenario is pure speculation right now. But, then again, so was similar talk about Ivanka’s father – Donald Trump – some 30 years ago, and, after all, Ivanka is already a familiar face in American living rooms, much like her father.
The blinding glare of public scrutiny is all over the first family of President Donald Trump. But, that spotlight is nothing new for his oldest daughter, Ivanka. Now part of a “power couple” with husband Jared Kushner, some observers wonder if this young lady– who is so familiar to America — could become the most powerful woman in politics.
“You’re fired!” That famous catch phrase sprung up in 2004, uttered by a then-billionaire real estate baron Donald Trump, in his first season of NBC’s reality television series, The Apprentice. While most of the focus was on “The Donald,” a young woman executive on that show was sometimes as tough on contestants as Donald Trump himself. That stunning then-twentysomething blonde was Donald Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka. Now more than 13 years after the debut of the long-running show, The Apprentice, Ivanka is in a position perhaps few could have imagined back when she was critiquing the way various contestants fulfilled their assigned challenges: She is the first daughter and senior advisor to the president of the United States of America.
Ivanka Trump, now 35 and the married mother of three children, is still the stunning young woman that caught the nation’s eye on The Apprentice. But that tough, no-nonsense image she cultivated on television has softened some with time, and even more so after becoming a wife and mother.
Part of the intrigue with Ivanka may also stem from the fact that it has been about a quarter century since America has had a president in office with some full-grown, well-established adult children — namely Ivanka, Donald, Jr., and Eric Trump. That’s the theory of local historian Michael Green. (Donald Trump’s youngest son, Barron, is now 11. Meanwhile, his youngest daughter Tiffany is also grown, but she just graduated college last year).
“This is the first time, since the elder (President) George (H.W.) Bush, that the president’s children included adults,” explained Green, who is also a history professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “Chelsea Clinton, and the (former President Barack) Obama daughters, were much too young for speculation on their political futures. George W. Bush’s daughters were in their teens, or something.”
The Kids Are Alright
There’s been a long string of presidents with only school-aged children since the elder Bush was in the White House from January 1989 to January 1993. He was followed by President Bill Clinton, who was in office from January 1993 to January 2001. The school-aged Chelsea Clinton lived in the White House with her parents, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.
Bill Clinton’s presidency gave way to the two terms of the George H.W. Bush’s son, George W. Bush, in January 2001. The younger Bush moved into the White House with his own two twin daughters – Jenna and Barbara Bush. But the twins were both busy with high school and college during his presidency. After George W. Bush left office in January 2009, President Barack Obama took office, bringing with him his own two (even younger) daughters – Sasha and Malia Obama.
“Ivanka is not the first (adult child of a sitting president), but she is the first in a long time,” Green points out. “She has also been the one (child) most involved in her father’s political ambitions.
Besides, Ivanka is the most public of President Trump’s children, only adding to the curiosity about her future plans, the UNLV professor adds. “There’s difficulty in the adjustment. Barron stayed in New York to finish the school year before moving to Washington, D.C. While (younger) daughter, Tiffany, seems to avoid the limelight.”
Ivanka Trump recently spoke publicly about first coming to the Washington. D.C., to work with her father.
“It’s incredible. It takes time to acclimate to the intensity of the experience,” she told Us Magazine. “But it’s truly remarkable, and I feel so blessed to be able to come to work at the White House.
“I truly get goosebumps just walking through the door, and I think I will always feel that way. I hope I’ll always feel that way,” Ivanka Trump continued.
Meanwhile, President Trump’s grown sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, have had some difficulties with being the focus of worldwide attention. The two brothers are hunters and photos of the brothers with animals they killed had brought on outcries from some animal rights proponents, along with then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Green recalls.
“Eric and Donald, Jr., have their own set of issues. You would have never seen Chelsea Clinton go big-game hunting,” he says. These are part of the pitfalls of being the adult children of a president, or presidential candidate.
Longtime Democratic political consultant Dan Hart is a little more critical of Donald, Jr., saying President Donald Trump’s namesake is “far from understanding politics.” But Hart believes Ivanka might have a future in politics, if she decides she wants one. “I think people have a lot of tolerance of her,” Hart says of Ivanka. “People have opinions of her, but not a well-formed opinion of her.”
All of then-candidate Donald Trump’s grown children – including Tiffany Trump – spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, on behalf of their father. Ivanka, Donald, Jr. and Eric, also gave many television and radio interviews during the campaign, to “stump” for their dad.
In the battleground state of Nevada, the three oldest Trump “kids” all guested on Las Vegas’ KXNT CBS radio with talk show host, and political commentator, Alan Stock. A Trump backer himself, Stock also gives high praise to Donald Trump’s three older children, calling them “well mannered” and “good humored.”
Stock has a high regard for Ivanka, but doesn’t think she wants to run for office herself, citing both her young children and the desire of most first families to get out of politics altogether once they leave the White House.
“Let’s just face it, she is poised, she speaks well, she is attractive, she doesn’t come across like a crazy of any kind,” he says of Ivanka. “I don’t think she was a Republican, as a matter-of-fact. I think she was independent, nonpartisan, especially.”
The Loyal Trump Supporter
Not long after her father’s upset win over the former secretary of state and former first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton in November 2016, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were appointed as senior advisors to the president-elect. Donald Trump left his company to run by his two adult sons – Donald, Jr. and Eric – while Ivanka and Jared prepared to move to Washington, D.C. In tow with the young couple were their three children Arabella, 6, Joseph, 4, and Theodore, 18 months.
Ivanka was regnant with Theodore during Donald Trump’s 2015-2016 presidential run. The loyal daughter made appearances on the campaign trail with – and for — her father almost right up until the time she gave birth. Donald Trump even once joked about the then-very-pregnant Ivanka possibly giving birth during one of his famous – and often raucous – campaign rallies. (Fortunately, the baby was born in a hospital, instead).
With her father’s struggle to get the woman’s vote away from a woman (Hillary Clinton) who would have been the first female president, Ivanka was able to do something that her brothers Don, Jr. and Eric could not: She is a living example of a woman that was helped and nurtured by Donald Trump.
“She helped her father with the fence-leaning voters,” especially after the now-infamous Donald Trump-Billy Bush Access Hollywood tape was released in October 2016, Stock says.
Ivanka also takes a lot of heat from detractors, notes Las Vegas-based national radio host Wayne Allyn Root. The WAR Now: The Wayne Allyn Root Radio Show host says that Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, will never be able to do anything right in the eyes of some critics.
“Liberals hate Jared and Ivanka reflexively … just because they are President Trump’s children and son in law,” answers Root. “No one knows exactly what they stand for. I’ll reserve judgement, except for one issue: Jared loves Israel. I love Israel. So, he starts off on the right foot with me!”
“I Don’t Know If She Is A Liberal Or A Conservative”
The oldest first daughter was an independent prior to her father winning the presidency. “Ivanka remains an enigma,” says Green. “I don’t know if she is a liberal or a conservative,” the historian adds.
Furthermore, opinions she may have expressed as a celebrity aren’t “policy statements,” but just that – opinions, according to Green. Will she seek office? Root won’t hazard a guess on that one. “That’s up to Ivanka,’ says the author and avid Donald Trump backer. “I don’t know yet where she stands on issues. She is a blank slate. I don’t vote for anyone based on celebrity and brand recognition. Let’s see her agenda, then I’ll tell you if I support her.”
Democratic political consultant Dan Hart says Ivanka could start a potential political career by running for either congress or, perhaps, even governor of her home state of New York. “New York is a fertile ground for celebrities and well-known people to move in and run for office,” he points out. “She could certainly be effective as a governor or as a U.S. senator. But a governor’s position would be harder for her, as it is a service-delivery job, while a U.S. senator (position) involves policy-making.”
Under The Influence?
Critics complain that Ivanka Trump – and husband Jared Kushner – have too much influence on the president, and as family, shouldn’t be working in the White House. But Stock says it is not unheard of for presidents to install relatives in high posts.
Stock points to the early 1960s, and then- Democratic President John F. Kennedy appointing his brother Robert F. Kennedy as attorney general. Of course, JFK was assassinated in 1963, before his term expired. RFK ran for president in 1968, but was himself assassinated during the primary season. (Republican Richard Nixon would ultimately win the presidency that year).
“In terms of her being an influence on her father, I think without a doubt she’s been an influence,” Stock says of Ivanka. “She had to be an influence. They moved her into the White House. I mean, she has an office that she occupies in the White House. So, you know he thinks very highly of his own daughter to have her there.” Stock thinks Ivanka has had an influence on her father when talks about the budget, and her signature cause: the issue of day care and paid-family leave. “That would have never had happened, had she not brought that up,” Stock says.
Ivanka Trump discussed her goals, for working in her father’s administration, in a recent Us Magazine interview. The senior advisor said those goals included “providing opportunities, like encouraging female and minority entrepreneurship in this country.” She added that: “Skills training needs to start with our youngest students and include our oldest workers, who have been displaced by technology. (I will also be) advocating for today’s dual-income families and for paid family leave.”
Root assesses Ivanka Trump’s influence this way: “Trust me, President Trump always listens to Ivanka, but makes his own decisions.”
Valerie Miller is an award-winning freelance writer. She can be reached at (702) 683-3986 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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