Ivanka Trump has combined her role as presidential adviser with that of in-demand campaign asset and fundraiser. Much like her father President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump is of late mingling her two jobs, using trips that highlight her policy portfolio to deliver campaign messaging in strategically selected battleground states.
One-part West Wing senior staff and one-part pop culture celebrity, Trump is the second-most requested campaign surrogate for events, behind her father, according to a White House official. She brings in money, too. Since August, she has participated in just four fundraisers on behalf of the campaign that have netted upwards of $15 million, according to the official.
Trump will be ramping up her travel even more as the election nears.
“She will be doing at least two to four days per week of visiting various states,” the official said. In the last two weeks, she has visited Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Georgia. The official noted that next week, Trump will be back in Florida and North Carolina, where polls show a close race between the President and Democrat nominee Joe Biden.
Perhaps Ivanka Trump’s biggest calling card this election season is her ability to pull in dollars.
In August, after a virtual fundraiser from the White House held on Zoom and headlined by the first daughter netted $4 million, Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel touted the impact of her appearance, saying, “Ivanka is a tremendous voice for the re-election effort.”
“The fact is, she’s talking about issues at these events that other surrogates are not. She can talk about paid family leave, or workforce development, or the child tax credit – issues that a lot of voters frankly haven’t heard Republicans talk about as much this campaign,” said the official, who said the people who go to Ivanka Trump events tend to be more ideologically diverse than those who turn out for the energy of the President’s larger rallies.
“When you’re raking in that kind of cash, you’re speaking to a very select cross-section of donor,” said a campaign source of her core audience. Earlier this month, at a closed-press fundraiser in Austin, Texas, Trump raised $4.5 million for Trump Victory, the fundraising arm of the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign. In Tampa, she raised $3 million at a private event. A campaign source said that in 2016, Trump was averaging about $2 million per campaign fundraising event; this year, that number has climbed to $3.5 million.
‘In high demand’ with her own style
On Friday, Trump was at a Winona, Minnesota, technology plant, discussing the administration’s employment agenda, while also touting the President’s USMCA trade deal and underscoring his message about keeping jobs in the US. The day before, Trump joined Vice President Mike Pence, this time at an Eau Claire manufacturing company that produces building materials. Trump, a former executive at the family real estate outfit, told the assembled workers how impressed she was with the company’s products. “And I’ve seen a lot of laminates,” she added. Trump and Pence also appeared at a “Cops for Trump” event in Minneapolis, playing up the President’s “law and order” messaging, which has become a cornerstone of his campaign stump speeches.
“She’s in high-demand,” the White House official said. “When she’s out there, she doesn’t have to fit in one box. She’s talking about policy that she’s had a hand in, but she’s also saying Trump needs to stay another four years.” On a recent visit to Tampa, prior to a “fireside chat” with local business leaders to discuss small businesses, Trump rolled up her sleeves in front of television cameras at a mom-and-pop bakery to prep dough for Cuban bread, a loaf of which she took home. It was a photo-op moment aimed at drawing Hispanic voters just days after Biden visited the same area.
Not a hype-man like her older brother, Donald Trump Jr., whose campaign appearances are typically raucous and primarily serve to rally Trump supporters, Ivanka Trump is deployed more strategically, according to the campaign source. “Ivanka is the Trump who can actually talk about issues and policy, not just rant against Joe Biden or fan the flames of hyper-partisanship,” the source said. “Where Don is calling out memes and fueling the base, she is having a conversation with voters who might be on the fence, or voters who didn’t go with Trump the first time around. This isn’t about her mingling her White House credentials with the hard-core MAGA types.”
Trump is also not a standing member of the Women for Trump club, which includes headliners like Trump Jr.’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Eric Trump’s wife, Lara, both of whom are senior advisers to the Trump 2020 campaign, as well as former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Diamond and Silk and campaign senior adviser Mercedes Schlapp. Second lady Karen Pence is also a loyal campaign soldier, on Friday making solo appearances in Michigan to rally evangelicals and female voters. Trump, however, is mostly a lone wolf on her scheduled campaign stops, though she does make exceptions for Pence and other members of the Cabinet.
Trump is also conscious of campaigning limitations during a pandemic, the White House official noted. Where Trump Jr. has not been an avid mask-wearer in public, nor abided by indoor gathering restrictions for some events – even after Guilfoyle’s bout with Covid-19 this summer – Ivanka Trump for her recent appearances has typically worn a mask and has hosted larger gatherings outside.
“We still choose to do things inside, because her strength having a more intimate audience for discussion and Q&A,” the White House official said, “but it’s also because she is aware of the fact there are Covid regulations.”