As the second-to-last speaker at the Republican convention, Ivanka Trump had two goals. First, to leverage her likability on behalf of the next speaker, her father. And second, to demonstrate to women that Donald Trump was the sort of candidate who would have their backs.
"My father values talent," Ivanka Trump said. "He recognizes real knowledge and skill when he finds it. He is color blind and gender neutral. He hires the best person for the job, period." At her father's company, she said, "there are more female than male executives. Women are paid equally for the work that we do, and when a woman becomes a mother, she is supported, not shut out."
She delineated some policy proposals:
- "As President, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. And he will focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all."
- "Politicians talk about wage equality, but my father has made it a practice at his company throughout his entire career. He will fight for equal pay for equal work, and I will fight for this too, right alongside of him."
Sounds good. The only catch is that Donald Trump himself has never outlined those proposals, even roughly. The candidate who has is Hillary Clinton.
Let's group Trump's arguments into three groups: equal pay, affordable child care and paid family leave, which Trump doesn't mention specifically but which her comments about women not being "shut out" seem to get at. Here's what the two candidates have to say on the subject of each.
What Donald Trump says: Of the three topics on our list, Trump has been asked about this the most. The most supportive he's been appears to have been comments he made during an Aug. 20, 2015, interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." Host Mika Brzezinski raised the topic alongside co-host Joe Scarborough.
BRZEZINSKI: How would you address the ongoing problem of women getting access to capital?
SCARBOROUGH: I'm glad you asked that question.
TRUMP: Women should have absolute access to capital, Mika.
BRZEZINSKI: Yes, but ...
TRUMP: When it comes to categorizing people, men and women into a group, it gets to be very dangerous. When you have to categorize men and women into a particular group and a particular pay scale, it gets very.... Because people do different jobs. If they do the same job, they should get the same pay...
SCARBOROUGH: There you go.
TRUMP: ... but it's very hard to say what is the same job. It's a very, very tricky question. And I talked about competition with other places and other parts of the world, Mika; this is one of the things that we have to look at very strongly.
SCARBOROUGH: But you did say, though, and I think this is what, Mika, you're getting at, equal pay for equal jobs.
As soon as he heard an endorsement of the subject, Scarborough pounced, later offering the sentiment more clearly: "You did say, though ... equal pay for equal jobs." Our Cal Borchers pointed out that this is a pattern with Trump: His vagueness is often honed by interviewers into something coherent. So Trump did say what Scarborough summarized — but with caveats.
Interestingly, Trump had declined to offer any comment when the same question came up on the show on Aug. 10, only 10 days earlier.
BRZEZINSKI: How would you approach the issue of equal pay and also helping more women get access to capital — capital, which they struggle with?
TRUMP: Okay, well, let me just tell you, this is the kind of a question I should have been asked. With me, Mika, I would be the best for women, the best for women's health issues.
BRZEZINSKI: The question is about equal pay. Republicans repeatedly voted against it. How would you get equal pay passed, and how would you enforce it? And the question of access to capital for women?
TRUMP: Well, look, as far as questions like that, Mika, I'm not going to do it on the show. I don't want to discuss it in the show. I want to discuss those questions at a debate and save them for a debate, but all I can say on women's issues and women's health issues, there will be nobody better than Donald Trump. But I'll come out with policy on that and make on the future. I just don't want to discuss it now.
He first misunderstands the question and then declines to answer it, saying that he'll "come out with policy" on it and he wants to "save it for a debate." A cynic might think that someone hearing Trump's initial offering, perhaps a longtime friend of Trump's with some experience in politics heard Trump's initial response and gently suggested that he appear on "Morning Joe" again to take another swing at it.
Especially since Trump whiffed on the question in a CNN interview with Chris Cuomo on Aug. 11.
CUOMO: You said I'm going to be great for women. I will do the most that can be done for women. Will you pass an equal pay? You know the statistics. You know, they don't get paid what men do?
TRUMP: I'm looking into that very strongly. I was asked that question yesterday. I'm looking into it very strongly. I will have a position on it in the not too distant future.
Trump explained how his company worked and how equal pay wasn't as easy as it sounds.
TRUMP: I have many women executives. I always have. When I was back in the construction days, the big construction days, I had women in charge of big developments.
CUOMO: Do you pay them what you pay the men?
TRUMP: I was very, very pro-women many years ago. They are incredible executives. They are incredible executives. I get the picture better than anybody.
CUOMO: Do you pay them the same as men?
TRUMP: I will make a decision soon.
CUOMO: Do you pay the women at the top of your organization the same way you pay the men?
TRUMP: Yes, I do, absolutely.
That's not the case on his campaign, by the way.
In a forum on Nov. 19, Trump seemed to abandon the clarity that Scarborough had seized upon.
TRUMP: Here's the problem. If you start getting involved with government on, this one gets this pay and this one gets that pay, then you say, where does it all start? Because you could have a woman that's much better than a man; you could have a woman that's not as good as a man. If you just sort of say, everyone gets equal pay, you get away from the whole American dream, you get away from capitalism in a sense.
His campaign website makes no mention of equal pay policy proposals.
What Hillary Clinton says: Her campaign has a page focusing on the subject and offering several solutions, including raising the minimum wage and passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Affordable child care
What Donald Trump says: Trump's website makes no mention of child care either.
At a town hall event last November, Trump tackled the topic. Our Jenna Johnson reported on his response.
"It's not expensive for a company to do it," Trump said during a town hall at a community college in this small town on Thursday afternoon. "You need one person or two people, and you need some blocks and you need some swings and some toys. You know, surely, it's not expensive. It's not an expensive thing. I do it all over, and I get great people because of it.... It's something that can be done, I think, very easily by a company."
What Hillary Clinton says: In May, Clinton unveiled a plan to expand access to child care, including proposing a cap on child-care costs.
Paid family leave
What Donald Trump says: CNN's Jake Tapper asked him about it in September.
TAPPER: You have said that you would be far better on women's issues than the likely Democratic candidate, nominee, Hillary Clinton. Let me ask you about one specific policy that she's talking about on the trail. She's obviously trying to draw a contrast between herself and Republicans. Do you think the federal government should require businesses to provide paid family leave, or do you think that's an unfair mandate?
TRUMP: We're going to be releasing a policy on it over the next three to four weeks, Jake. And we're working on it right now.
No policy was released.
What Hillary Clinton says: She supports it.
During her speech, Ivanka Trump pointed out that she "[does] not consider myself categorically Republican or Democrat. More than party affiliation, I vote on based on what I believe is right, for my family and for my country."
If the policies above are her priorities, and if the Republican who gave those interviews to MSNBC and CNN didn't share her last name, it's fair to wonder which party Ivanka Trump would back in 2016.