Growing up Trump wasn’t exactly a typical upbringing.
“I was probably 10 years old and I’d call collect to the Trump Organization,” Ivanka Trump recalled of her private school days at the Chapin School in New York City.
Hiding in a janitor’s closet during recess, she would dial her dad, who would put her on speakerphone with whomever happened to be in his office.
“It was colleagues, it was titans of industry, it was heads of countries. He’d always tell everyone in the room how great a daughter I was and say cute things and ask me about a test I took,” Trump told CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger in an interview.
For the famously workaholic Donald Trump, raising children during his business’ construction boom in the 1980s required a challenging balance of work and family life.
“He always made us his top priority,” Trump said. “It doesn’t mean he was home every night for dinner – he wasn’t. He was working very hard. He was building an enormous business and he was in the early days of doing that when I was young and had a lot to prove to himself and to others, and he had big ambitions for himself. So, you know, he wasn’t always physically present but he was always available.”
Much of Ivanka’s upbringing revolved around the Trump Organization – she recalls playing at her father’s knee during meetings – but she says he never pushed his children to go into real estate, and nearly did the opposite.
“(He would) almost undermine my thought process about coming into the family business, because he wanted to make sure that I knew that it wasn’t an expectation of his,” she told Borger. “He always said to us, ‘You’ll never be able to compete at the highest level if you don’t deeply love what it is that you do.’ It’s probably the most consistent piece of advice he gave me my whole life.”
Today, the family business is as much about politics as it is real estate, with Ivanka Trump and her siblings as involved in the campaign as they would be in a development deal. Both Ivanka and Trump’s wife, Melania, have expressed their desire for Trump to act more “presidential” on the campaign trail.
While she wouldn’t divulge the specifics of her conversations with her father, she said she isn’t afraid of sharing her opinion with him.
“Part of the reason we have such a good relationship is because he respects me and because I’m candid in my opinions and I share them – solicited or otherwise,” she said.
But does he listen?
“Sometimes, and sometimes he doesn’t, or sometimes he listens for limited periods of times,” she laughingly told Borger.
Still, she recognizes just how polarizing her father can be.
“I think it’s part of what people love about him. It’s also part of what angers people. He is authentic,” Trump said. “My father’s always elicited strong opinions in people. He’s bold, he’s unabashed, he’s very himself.”
Nobody knows that better than his daughter. Still, even in the unusual life of a child of Donald Trump, the past year has been one she could never have imagined.
“You know, this is bigger than him at this point and he recognizes that and he takes that very seriously. So, it’s amazing for me, as a daughter, to see how passionate people are about this election cycle, and it’s just been great,” she said.