Children get a little more of a pass, but not always. Jimmy Carter found that out the hard way in 1980 when, during his lone debate with Ronald Reagan, he talked about how he asked his then pre-teen daughter Amy how she felt about the threat of nuclear war. Carter was pilloried for seemingly consulting with a literal child about national security matters. But somehow, when the presidential candidate’s adult child is perceived to be a strong influence for that candidate it seems to be OK. And with someone as generally popular and accomplished as Ivanka Trump, it seems more than OK.
And Ivanka gives Trump something Hillary Clinton just can’t match. Bill Clinton has become almost as much of a liability than he is an asset as a candidate’s spouse. Chelsea Clinton is not seen as individually accomplished as Ivanka and has been hit with criticism for apparent nepotism in securing some high-paying jobs. And Chelsea simply doesn’t have that Ivanka-like chic. In fact, some Clinton campaign events featuring Chelsea have bombed, including a well-publicized event in Manhattan that originally was peddled out for $2,700 per person but generated such weak interest that tickets at the last minute went for as little as $50. Something tells me an event featuring Ivanka Trump wouldn’t have that kind of trouble.
Donald Trump will have to choose someone else for his vice presidential running mate. But he’ll be hard pressed to find someone with as many plusses as Ivanka, who generates positive attention to his campaign and – most importantly – takes a good degree of the “crazy” off of his general image. The good news for Trump is that, while both candidates on the presidential ticket rarely campaign together on the trail, he can bring Ivanka with him wherever he goes and make sure she continues to be right behind him directly in camera range at every rally and speech. Melania is always visible too, but for different and less politically valuable reasons.