A Star Is Born: Ivanka Trump Takes Cleveland And Republicans By Storm

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Stewart Lawrence Stewart J. Lawrence is a Washington, D.C.-based public policy analyst who writes frequently on immigration and Latino affairs. He is also founder and managing director of Puentes & Associates, Inc., a bilingual survey research and communications firm.
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She’d be hailed as a feminist icon – except for her last name.

Ivanka Trump, daughter of the billionaire real estate mogul, put on an extraordinary show last Thursday at the GOP convention in Cleveland. She was the last of the four Trump children to speak, and was clearly the best of the bunch.

If anyone thought her role was merely to introduce and celebrate her father in glowing and affectionate terms – which she did, in compelling and convincing fashion — they were sorely mistaken.

Ivanka, just like her two brothers, came to the stage with a political message – and though it may not have been one that everyone in the crowd was expecting – or even wanted to hear – it left a lasting impression.

Supremely poised and articulate, Trump, a 34-year old former model, business owner, senior executive of the Trump Organization, and proud mother of three – wore an elegant but modest dress she’d designed herself. She was clearly intent on showing the GOP and the country as a whole just what the nation’s rising generation of conservative women look and sound like.

It was bold – and almost breathtaking, and virtually insures that her voice will be heard in politics – somewhere soon, and for some time to come.

She spoke for all Millennials when she said she was often unsure what party she belonged to. It was a striking departure for the daughter of the presidential nominee speaking at his party’s national nominating convention – but was pitch-perfect.

After all, it’s just how so many Trump supporters – increasingly drawn from both parties, and from the ranks of the disaffected – actually feel. Despite critics who question his conservative [principles and commitment to the GOP, Trump has brought them back to the Republican party and promises to keep them there.

And then there was her poignant and forceful defense of equal pay and paid leave for pregnant mothers. It came early in the speech and probably shocked some Republican conventioneers who are more accustomed to hearing Democratic party women raise these issues, often as part of a broadside against the GOP’s alleged “war on women.”

Trump unabashedly cited statistics that show that women’s compensation at the workplace, on average, still lags behind men’s. And she criticized the idea that high-value female employees should be “shut out” of the workplace when they get pregnant rather than being supported and encouraged – and still compensated, she implied — as part of a more enlightened private sector ethos.

What made the argument so poignant, though, was the way that Ivanka used it to extol her father’s own record of supporting and promoting women at the Trump Organization and indeed, from the very beginning of his business career. Some news organization, including the Washington Post, have grudgingly acknowledged Donald Trump’s impressive record, but much of the country remains unaware of it – especially given the vitriol and epithets aimed at him.

Many Democrats and feminists consider Trump’s bawdy and at times sexist remarks about women to be indicative of a man steeped in misogyny and contempt for the female gender.

But Ivanka, standing there so tall and strong and formidable, is living testament to her father values – and his legacy. The impression she left was unmistakable – and irrefutable.

Ivanka asked the assembled to let her father do for the country what he’s already done for so many. Judge her father not like a politician — by his “words” — but by his “accomplishments.” She pointed not just to the buildings he’s created – but the “skylines he’s transformed.” Clearly, those skylines have included her own dreams and aspirations – many of them already fulfilled.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone listening to Ivanka – including many Trump skeptics, especially women – could fail to take her compelling message to heart. She has raised eyebrows before on the campaign trail but this was a breakout performance. When Trump appeared from the wings, he hugged and kissed his daughter — and yes, even patted her hips — in a way that only a loving father can do.  

More than other Trump children, Ivanka Trump seems to take after her father in a special way. Which means she seems destined to become “our” daughter, too. Whatever happens in November, Ivanka will be back. In Cleveland, a star was born.