CLEVELAND — Ivanka Trump, the polished, careful daughter of a shoot-from-the-hip presidential candidate, made a personal appeal to female voters who remain skeptical of a Trump presidency, describing her father “as a fighter” for the nation and women.
Remarkably, the nominee’s daughter told the party faithful at the Republican National Convention on Thursday that “I do not consider myself categorically Republican or Democrat.” Rather, the 34-year-old said that, like many millennials, “more than party affiliation, I vote based on what I believe is right for my family and my country.”
“My father values talent,” said Ivanka Trump, a vice president of the family Trump Organization. “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.”
Ivanka spoke in a prime-time TV spot, introducing her father with millions tuned in to watch his acceptance speech. Since he first announced his bid for president with her beside him, Ivanka has played the most visible role among his children, who have emerged as his closest advisers and greatest assets.
The daughter who has a growing celebrity of her own was showered with applause from the convention floor. She painted a picture of an empathetic man — and made it clear she doesn’t think the country knows the real Donald Trump yet: “If it’s possible to be famous and yet not really well known, that describes the father who raised me.”
“I’ve learned a lot about the world from walking construction jobs by his side,” she said. “In the same office in Trump Tower where we now work together, I remember playing on the floor by my father’s desk, constructing miniature buildings with Legos and erector sets, while he did the same with concrete, steel and glass.”
Her remarks were a highlight in a convention marked at times by party mutiny and chaos. With her stepmother and Trump’s current wife, Melania, looking on, Ivanka played the central role traditionally filled by spouses who give personal testimonials of the candidate.
She described her father — who has five children from three marriages — as a man who showed all of his children “how to be resilient, how to deal with challenges and how to strive for excellence in all that we do,” she said.
“ ‘Ivanka, if you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big,’ ” she said her father told her as a young child.
Ivanka Trump was the fourth of the Trump children to speak this week, and the Thursday night slot ahead of his big speech was seen as a testament to the importance of her role in the family, as well as a nod to her popularity.
“Ivanka 2024” posters have even sprung up, with some calling the former model a possible candidate for future office.
She devoted much of her remarks to defend her father from criticism that he is sexist, especially since he has a long history of crude remarks about women’s physical appearances. He is viewed unfavorably by 69 percent of female voters, according to a new Washington Post poll.
“At our family’s company, there are more female than male executives,” Ivanka said to sustained applause. “Women are paid equally for the work that we do and, when a woman becomes a mother, she is supported — not shut out.”
She said her father hired women for key jobs “long before it was commonplace.” The mother of three small children also promised that her father would make a special effort to help working mothers.
“As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put in place during a time in which women were not a significant part of the workforce and will focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all,” she said.
A large part of her growing celebrity stems from her public focus on the balance of work and family life. Her youngest is only 4 months old and she often posts pictures of her kids while working on multimillion-dollar real estate deals.
She is married to Jared Kushner, who comes from a well-known Democratic family; they have hosted fundraisers for candidates of both political parties. She is also friendly with Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, and noticeably abstained from the Clinton-bashing that has been rife in this convention.
She described her father as kind and compassionate, saying she remembered seeing him “tear stories out of the newspaper about people he had never met who were facing some injustice or hardship. He’d write a note to his assistant in his signature black felt-tip pen and request that the person be found and invited to Trump Tower to meet with him. . . . They would leave his office, as people often do after being with Donald Trump, feeling that life could be great again.”