Ivanka Insists Americans Don't See the Real Trump: 'I Want to Tell You About the Leader I Know'
Ivanka Trump argued Thursday in her Republican National Convention speech that, after three and a half years of Donald Trump's presidency, many Americans still don't understand what kind of person he is behind the scenes.
The president's oldest daughter, who is a senior White House adviser, introduced her dad during the final night of the RNC, pressing a sometimes contradictory case that Trump, 74, is still misunderstood by the public — despite his hourly use of social media and frequent interviews and press conferences.
"I want to tell you about the leader I know and the moments that I wish every American could see," Ivanka, 38, told supporters on the White House South Lawn — where they gathered without social distance and many without face masks — and which the Trumps appropriated, perhaps illegally, for the final night of their convention.
Before this invited crowd and flanked by Trump campaign banners, Ivanka launched into a 15-minute speech in which she hoped to tell the story of her father "when the cameras have left, the microphones are off and the decisions really count."
Trailing in the polls, including among key constituencies like suburban voters, Trump and his campaign have used this week's RNC in part to present a new version of him to prospective voters, despite his divisive style and the shadow of ongoing crises such as the novel coronavirus pandemic and national demonstrations against racial injustice.
Ivanka, after telling a personal story about how the president keeps a LEGO figure in his office made by her and fellow White House adviser Jared Kushner's son Joseph threw a familiar Trump-like jab at lawmakers in Washington, D.C., who she said "skip the hard fights."
"I was shocked to see people leave major challenges unsolved so they can blame the other side and campaign on the same issue in the next election," Ivanka said.
"Tonight," she said, "I stand before you as the proud daughter of the people's president. He is our commander-in-chief, champion of the American worker, defender of common sense and our voice for the forgotten men and women of this country."
Surrogates for Trump's 2020 campaign have long been attacking Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for failing to react firmly to the pandemic, despite Biden not being in office.
As Ivanka celebrated her father's administration's response to the virus — which has been much scrutinized as slow and uncoordinated — the U.S. death toll crossed 180,000 on Thursday, according to a New York Times tracker.
In recent months, upwards of more than 40 million people in the U.S. have filed for unemployment, while the country hit the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression more than a decade ago.
At the same time, the president has been criticized by both Democratic and Republican leaders for his often provocative leadership, epitomized by his preference for picking fights on social media.
That was emphasized this week as more than 300 former Republican aides — who worked with President George W. Bush, the late Sen. John McCain and Sen. Mitt Romney — announced in open letters that they've decided to endorse Biden.
"I know his tweets can feel a bit … unfiltered," Ivanka said Thursday, pausing for the crowd to laugh. "But the results speak for themselves."
The RNC has largely been a family affair, with four of the president's children delivering remarks throughout the week. Ivanka's speech Thursday saw her join siblings Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump in pitching voters on why they think their father should be elected to four more years in office.
Throughout the week, the Trump campaign has lined up Republican speakers — who have at times spread falsehoods about the president's political rivals — in hopes of highlighting Trump's performance on domestic and foreign policy while saying that Trump's rhetoric doesn't represent who they believe he is privately.
"He's certainly kept things interesting," Vice President Mike Pence said in his own nomination speech Wednesday, before Trump made a surprise announcement.
Ivanka, who joined the White House in 2017, has been a lightning rod for critics of the Trump administration in her own way.
While she has been praised by some for her work on women's and workforce issues, she has been accused by critics of nepotism and hypocrisy for her role as a senior aide practicing a kind of strategic silence — less inflammatory than her father but a proponent of his policies.
Ivanka's role in helping pass a December 2019 law that extended paid parental leave, for example, was called out by late-night host Samantha Bee, who was previously caught in a brief controversy after calling the first daughter a “feckless c---" (for which she later apologized).
“I guess even a Trump has to do something right occasionally,” Bee joked on her show after the law passed.
Speaking Thursday, Ivanka said her dad's approach to politics had changed her own.
"He is so unapologetic about his beliefs that he has caused me and countless Americans to take a hard look at our own convictions and ask ourselves: What do we stand for?" she said. "What kind of America do we want to leave for our children?"