DONALD Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, is by all reports a calm and moderating influence on his presidential campaign behind the scenes.
She’s also been an undisputed asset in public, where she appeals to voters who are put off by her father’s brash rhetoric.
Ivanka delivered the best speech by far at the Republican convention, focusing on issues Trump himself had barely touched — and it’s no coincidence that she helped announce his childcare and maternity leave policy this week.
The policy had Ivanka’s fingerprints all over it. It offered new mothers six weeks of paid maternity leave, snubbing the Republican Party’s traditional position on the issue and appealing to the political centre. It was also a pretty obvious attempt to close the “gender gap” with Hillary Clinton, who’s leading by a huge margin among female voters.
Ivanka, not Donald, wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal explaining the new policy, and she has spent the subsequent days promoting it in media interviews.
One of those interviews, with Cosmopolitan, didn’t go too well. Under a mildly challenging line of questioning, Ivanka lost her patience and hung up.
It started to get tense when the reporter, Prachi Gupta, asked whether Trump’s maternity leave policy would apply to same-sex couples.
“It’s meant to benefit, whether it’s in same-sex marriages as well, to benefit the mother who has given birth to the child if they have legal married status under the tax code,” Ivanka said. “The original intention of the plan is to help mothers in recovery in the immediate aftermath of childbirth.”
“So I just want to be clear that, for same-sex adoption, where the two parents are both men, they would not be receiving special leave for that because they don’t need to recover or anything?” the interviewer asked.
“Well, those are your words, not mine. Those are your words. The plan, right now, is focusing on mothers, whether they be in same-sex marriages or not,” Ivanka replied.
When Ms Gupta brought up a comment Trump made about maternity leave back in 2004 — he clearly wasn’t in favour of it back then — Ivanka got testy.
“Donald Trump said that pregnancy is an inconvenient thing for a business. It’s surprising to see this policy from him today. Can you talk a little bit about those comments, and perhaps what has changed?” Ms Gupta asked.
“So I think you have a lot of negativity in these questions, and I think my father has put forth a very comprehensive and really revolutionary plan to deal with a lot of issues. So I don’t know how useful it is to spend too much time with you on this if you’re going to make a comment like that,” Ivanka shot back.
“I would like to say that I’m sorry the questions, you’re finding them negative, but it is relevant that a presidential candidate made those comments, so I’m just following that up,” Ms Gupta replied.
“Well, you said he made those comments. I don’t know that he said those comments,” Ivanka said.
“There’s plenty of time for you to editorialise around this, but I think he put forth a really incredible plan that has pushed the boundaries of what anyone else is talking about.”
Trump did in fact make that comment in 2004, during an interview with Dateline on NBC.
Ivanka tolerated one more probing question, this time regarding the cost of the plan, before deciding she’d had enough and cutting the interview short.
“I’m going to jump off, I have to run. I apologise,” she said before bluntly hanging up.
It was a rare moment of impatience from Ivanka, and a particularly strange one, because the questions really weren’t that difficult or hostile.
In case you’re wondering, Hillary Clinton does have a maternity leave plan as well. She wants to give fathers and mothers 12 weeks of paid leave — double the length of Trump’s policy.