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CLEVELAND – Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president at the party’s convention on Thursday night, but it was his daughter Ivanka who stole the show.
Ivanka delivered an elegant address that spoke to her father’s record of supporting women and minorities within his company. She also shared touching anecdotes about growing up with Donald as a dad, helping to humanize a candidate who has gained a reputation as a ruthless ladder-climber.
“If it’s possible to be famous and yet not really well known, that describes the father who raised me,” Ivanka 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.”
She painted a picture of Trump as a family man and discussed the values he instilled in her and her siblings.
“My father taught my siblings and me the importance of positive values and a strong ethical compass,” Ivanka said. “He showed us how to be resilient, how to deal with challenges, and how to strive for excellence in all that we do. He taught us that there’s nothing that we cannot accomplish, if we marry vision and passion with an enduring work ethic.”
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Ivanka also characterized her father as someone who reaches out to help people, even mentioning the now notorious black felt-tip pen he has been known to use to write notes to people.
“He’d write a note to his assistant, in a signature black felt-tip pen, and request that the person be found and invited to Trump Tower to meet with him,” she said. “He would talk to them and then draw upon his extensive network to find them a job or get them a break. And they would leave his office, as people so often do after having been with Donald Trump, feeling that life could be great again.”
Implicitly pushing back on the accusations of sexism her father has faced, Ivanka talked about how she has seen him work with women.
“My father values talent,” Ivanka 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.”
She then took it a step further to make the case that her father is a champion of women in the workplace.
“At my father’s company, there are more female than male executives,” Ivanka said. “Women are paid equally for the work that we do, and when a woman becomes a mother she is supported, not shut out.”
Ivanka is thought to be a “secret weapon” of sorts for her father’s campaign. A vast majority of American women view Trump negatively, according to a March Gallup poll, and old interviews have surfaced that show Donald talking about women in a derogatory way.
But Ivanka “can speak in the first person about how women have prospered in the Trump Organization, how Donald Trump, unlike Hillary Clinton, has paid women more than men,” veteran Republican strategist Roger Stone told Business Insider at the convention this week.
“I think she helps soften Donald’s rough edges, I think she’s a giant asset, and I think that’s why she’s going to be showcased,” he said.
From the floor of the convention, Ivanka’s speech seemed well-received. Delegates cheered her testament to her father, and she came across as articulate and poised.
“I thought her speech was very empowering and her love for her father really showed and as a woman, seeing someone else speak in favor of Donald Trump just makes me support him all the more,” Sarah Reynolds, a delegation aide for Arkansas, told Business Insider after the speeches wrapped.
Linda Collins-Smith, a business owner and state senator from Arkansas, said Ivanka came across as very confident in her speech.
“She spoke with confidence – you had no doubt you believed her,” Collins-Smith said.
California delegate Alison Hayden said she viewed Donald’s children “as a reflection of the man.”
If the negative things people have said about how Trump treats women are true, Hayden said, he wouldn’t “have such self-assured daughters and wife, nor would he have a company that employed more women than men and paid them equally.”
It seems the Trump children are already having a measurable effect on voters in Cleveland.
A reporter for The Washington Post had conversations with voters in a suburban tavern this week and came to this conclusion: “Above all, three days into the GOP convention, people who had been looking for a reason to feel better about Trump said they found it in his family.”