Trump: Lovely family, ugly campaign

Inside the Trump Family
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Inside the Trump Family 02:55

Story highlights

  • Donald Trump and his family participated in CNN's Republican Party presidential candidate town hall Tuesday
  • Raul Reyes: As Trump brings his family into the limelight, it glosses over very real ugliness of his campaign

Raul A. Reyes, an attorney and member of the USA Today board of contributors, writes frequently for CNN Opinion. Follow him on Twitter @RaulAReyes. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)In a town hall appearance Tuesday night viewers learned that Donald Trump has a lovely family. His wife and children all praised him as a consummate husband, father, friend and role model. But while this was an interesting hour that certainly humanized the bombastic Trump, having much of the family onstage meant that from early on Trump himself faced few tough questions.

Trump did wisely name-check "New York values" within ten minutes of the start of this event. Very smart, reminding voters of Ted Cruz's infamous slap at their state.
    But his daughter, Ivanka -- who has been the face of the Trump get-out-the-vote effort in several states -- was unconvincing in explaining why she did not change her registration (from independent to Republican) in time to vote for her father in Tuesday's New York primary. She said it was because the deadline to change registration was "close to a year ago." The deadline was October 9.
    Raul Reyes
    Either way, as she has done before, Ivanka sidestepped any discussion of her father's sexist comments and misogynistic behavior. She called politics a "vicious industry." But how about addressing why her father feels comfortable insulting Carly Fiorina's looks and Megyn Kelly's temperament?
    Melania Trump came across well, although inadvertently, she also provided the most ironic moment of the hour. While discussing how she is raising her young son, she cited the threat of bullying on social media. Meanwhile, America's No.1 bully -- her husband, who has called women "dogs" and "fat pigs" -- sat right beside her.
    There was nothing really offensive about this "up close and personal" chat with the Trump family -- unless we consider the broader context of the whole Trump phenomenon. It is wonderful that Trump seems to have such a close, loving relationship with his children. But there are millions of wonderful American Muslim families, Latino families, and immigrant families who face harassment and hate speech as a direct consequence of Trump's rise to political prominence. As Trump brings his family into the limelight at this type of event, it glosses over the very real ugliness of his campaign.
    It would have been fascinating to ask the Trump sons how they would feel if a presidential candidate were threatening to separate their families, or how Ivanka might feel if she were targeted and harassed because of her religion. True, the Trump children are not running for office, but if they continue to put themselves in the public eye, they deserve to be questioned about their father's positions too.
    And there are a few other questions that Trump should be called to account on. For example, why does Trump think it is appropriate to hold a fundraiser in Patchogue, Long Island, on Thursday, the site of an ugly immigrant hate crime in 2008? Why does Ivanka, a successful businessperson like her father, also make so many of her products in China, despite the criticism Trump has leveled at the country? (Some of her scarves were recently recalled as posing a burn risk). And why does Donald Trump have such a reportedly poor record of charitable giving from his own pocket? We still don't know.
    On the positive side, Ivanka Trump came across as warm, poised, and thoughtful. She could very well prove to be a tremendous asset to her father in the general election. In fact, she made such an overall positive impression that one takeaway from Tuesday's town hall is that the wrong Trump is running for president.