At a CNN town hall in Milwaukee last week, a voter asked Donald Trump a tricky question— How’d you raise such seemingly composed children who conduct themselves sensibly in the public eye, and could you learn from their example?
Trump’s answer was to initially praise his children*, whom the questioner called “well-spoken and calm,” but cautioned they can be pretty bad behind the scenes, too. Thanks, Pops.
“You don’t want to see them sometimes, I will say this. They’re very strong. They are very – they have great heart. They have great heart,” Trump said.
In the lead-up to Trump’s tremendous loss in Wisconsin to Ted Cruz, amid a litany of missteps that underscored Trump’s problems wooing women voters, the campaign debuted his wife Melania on the stump.
But the better surrogate for Donald Trump— one whose support has been evident if muted on the trail— is Ivanka Trump, the businessman’s 34-year-old daughter who instead made her stunning post-baby debut this week Manhattan.
Donning a white form-fitting flutter-hemmed dress with a pair of pale pink heels (from her own collection, natch), her ever-present effortless radiance just days after the birth of her son stood in contrast to the braggadocio her father feels compelled to offer at every speech. While Donald Trump insists on his classiness at every turn, his eldest daughter just is.
Ivanka is a natural in the art of Kate Middletoning—being damn near perfect and likable, especially to women, even when her immense beauty and privilege have the potential to make such displays grating.
Ivanka is undeniably a Trump. Her 2011 book is titled, “Trump Card: Playing to Win in Business and Life.” In a 2003 documentary about the scions of America’s wealthiest families, “Born Rich,” Ivanka opines on the family name.
“The fact is that I’m absolutely, you know, proud to be a Trump,” she said. “For a while I was worried for my whole life, I’d be under my parents’ shadow, but it’s not a bad shadow to be under, I guess.”
In fact, she manages to shine in the shadow. Even when her father’s gut-driven populist campaign has whipped that shadow into a storm cloud, Ivanka emerges unscathed, maintaining the brand equivalent of a fresh blow-out and flawless suede pumps.**
Her father spent the week tweeting yo-wife jokes about Heidi Cruz, brainstorming punishments for women who have abortions, and commending the behavior of an aide arrested for battery of a female reporter. Meanwhile Ivanka, who runs a lifestyle brand for millennial women, was far away giving birth to a perfect baby boy and posting dewy Instagram photos of them. Even her labor and delivery is impeccably timed.
In Long Island Wednesday, Ivanka introduced her father just over a week after giving birth. He chose to make a condescending crack about sparing her from his catchphrase: “She did a good job. So, I won’t say ‘IVANKA, YOU’RE FIRED!'” One wonders how often she’ll show up to endure these you-mad-bro jabs from her father, but there’s no need to wonder why he dishes them out. If you listen to Trump’s speeches and watch his eldest daughter in action, she is the effortless embodiment of everything about which he evinces screaming insecurity.
Donald on being smart:
“I went to an Ivy League School. Like an intelligent person, I know when to speak.” — Today Show, Oct. 2015
“I went to the Wharton School of Finance, I was an excellent Student. I’m a smart person. I built a tremendous company.” —CNN’s “State of the Union,” Aug. 2015
“I went to the Wharton School of Business. I’m, like, a really smart person.” —Speech in Phoenix, July 2015
Ivanka on being smart:
She graduated summa cum laude from Wharton with a degree in economics.
Donald on faith:
“The Bible means a lot to me but I don’t want to get into specifics. I don’t want to get into verses.” — Bloomberg Television, Aug. 2015
I’m strongly into the Bible; I’m strongly into God and religion. I’m pro-life and different things.” — The Economist, Sept. 2015
“When I drink my little wine— which is about the only wine I drink—and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed.” —Iowa Q&A, July 2015
Ivanka on faith:
She converted to Orthodox Judaism in 2009, observes the Sabbath, and keeps a kosher home.
“We’re pretty observant, more than some, less than others. I just feel like it’s such an intimate thing for us,” she told Vogue in 2015. “It’s been such a great life decision for me. I am very modern, but I’m also a very traditional person, and I think that’s an interesting juxtaposition in how I was raised as well. I really find that with Judaism, it creates an amazing blueprint for family connectivity.”
Donald on his hands:
“Look at my hands. They’re fine. Nobody other than Graydon Carter years ago used to use that. My hands are normal hands. During a debate, he was losing, and he said, ‘Oh, he has small hands and therefore, you know what that means.’ This was not me.
“This was Rubio that said, ‘He has small hands and you know what that means.’ Okay? So, he started it…I had 50 people…Is that a correct statement? I mean people were writing, ‘How are Mr. Trump’s hands?’ My hands are fine. You know, my hands are normal. Slightly large, actually. In fact, I buy a slightly smaller than large glove, okay? No, but I did this because everybody was saying to me, ‘Oh, your hands are very nice. They are normal.’ So Rubio, in a debate, said, because he had nothing else to say…now I was hitting him pretty hard. He wanted to do his Don Rickles stuff and it didn’t work out. Obviously, it didn’t work too well. But one of the things he said was, ‘He has small hands and therefore, you know what that means, he has small something else.’ You can look it up. I didn’t say it.
“…I don’t want people to go around thinking that I have a problem. I’m telling you, Ruth, I had so many people. I would say 25, 30 people would tell me…every time I’d shake people’s hand, ‘Oh, you have nice hands.’ Why shouldn’t I?…I even held up my hands, and said, ‘Look, take a look at that hand.’…And by saying that, I solved the problem. Nobody questions. Everyone held my hand. I said look. Take a look at that hand.”
Ivanka on her hands:
They’re literally the size of a human child:
Donald on being awesome:
“Nobody knows more about the banking system than me. Believe me.” — “Hannity,” Nov. 2015
“I’m a very competent person, believe me.” — The Economist, Sept. 2015
“I don’t have to brag. I don’t have to, believe it or not.” — presidential announcement, June 2015
Ivanka on being awesome:
Ivanka does not talk about how awesome she is.
From a young age, she showed an ability to let the grandeur afforded by the Trump name and empire speak for itself. In her early 20s, she gave a tour of her childhood bedroom to “Born Rich” documentarian and fellow heir Jamie Johnson of the Johnson and Johnson family.
The walls were the cloying lilac of 1980s little-girl dreams. She self-deprecatingly pointed out her “90210” and hair-band shrines. A signed Bon Jovi poster was about as decadent as it got, until Johnson asked her what floor they were on. “The 68th,” she answered as the camera panned to a panorama of Central Park just beyond her little canopy twin bed. “Not a bad view to wake up to.”
To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, class, success, and intelligence are like being a lady. If you have to say you are, you’re not. There’s at least one Trump who understands this.
*He praised all of his children except Tiffany, his 22-year-old daughter with second wife Marla Maples, whom he routinely and bizarrely excludes from his paeans to his kids.
**This brand resilience will be tested this week, as the government has ordered the recall of Ivanka Trump scarves deemed too flammable for safe wearing. There have been no incidents reported, and the company’s statement is appropriately chagrined. Her father will certainly say something more flamingly problematic than her China-made rayon death shawls within a day or two, pushing these Google results to page 6 of the “Trump” mentions.