In June, Ivanka accompanied her father to Osaka, Japan, for the G20 summit. After the meetings, the French government posted a video clip that showed the president’s daughter standing amid a gaggle of side-eyeing world leaders as she tried awkwardly to force her way into the conversation. The clip went viral, spawning a hashtag—#UnwantedIvanka—and a wave of parody Photoshops inserting her into great moments in history: mugging for the camera at the March on Washington, grinning next to Winston Churchill at Yalta. News outlets around the world covered the snub. Pundits called it a damning indictment of Trump’s nepotism, while foreign-policy experts argued that Ivanka’s lack of credibility could harm U.S. diplomacy. A quote from an anonymous Indian diplomat recirculated in the media: “We regard Ivanka Trump the way we do half-wit Saudi princes.”
The episode laid bare the depth of Ivanka’s miscalculation. She had thought when her father took office that the surest path to power and status was to plant herself in the West Wing and mingle with the global elite. But after two and a half years of trying to burnish her credentials as a geopolitical player, Ivanka had become an international punch line. There was, it turned out, no market for a genteel brand of Trumpism.
Don, meanwhile, threw himself into his father’s reelection campaign, while quietly plotting his own future. According to Republicans familiar with the discussions, he considered running for office somewhere in the Mountain West, where his love of guns and hunting could help woo voters. A privately commissioned poll in Montana—passed around enthusiastically among Don’s inner circle—showed that 75 percent of the state’s Republicans viewed him favorably. In April, it was announced that Guilfoyle would join the Trump campaign as a senior adviser.
While Don mulled his options, some allies talked him up as a potential chairman of the Republican National Committee. Others suggested he launch a right-wing political outfit that would allow him to hold rallies and bestow endorsements. The word kingmaker started getting tossed around.