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Ivanka Trump: Critics 'scared' of Donald Trump presidency

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 8/9/2016 Matthew Dolan
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DETROIT — She may be the campaign whisperer in an often blustery realm of Donald Trump.

Trump's eldest daughter Ivanka Trump offered a full-throated but soft-spoken defense of her father's candidacy in an interview following his speech Monday before the Detroit Economic Club.

"He raised me to be a strong woman and voice my opinion," she told the Detroit Free Press. "I share with him when I agree and when I disagree."

When asked if she could provide some examples of where she and her father disagreed on policy or strategy, Donald Trump's oldest daughter demurred.

Her advice is provided "privately because that’s the nature of our relationship," she said. "But I’m very inspired by what he’s done."

But she also acknowledged that it is difficult for her to understand why people don't see her father as she does.

"They’re scared," Ivanka Trump said of her father's harshest critics. "They never thought that he’d be where he is."

To critics who call her father's temperament volatile, Ivanka Trump challenged the characterization, calling her father "incredibly level-headed."

"I think that he fights and he’s strong and he’s had to fight. He has a lot of people coming at him," Trump said.

And now is not the time to start telling Donald Trump to alter his approach after so much success, according to his daughter. Ivanka Trump speaks with reporters before Republican nominee Donald Trump speaks to the Detroit Economic Club at Cobo Center on Monday Aug. 8, 2016 in downtown Detroit. © Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press Ivanka Trump speaks with reporters before Republican nominee Donald Trump speaks to the Detroit Economic Club at Cobo Center on Monday Aug. 8, 2016 in downtown Detroit.

The New York City real estate magnate who has never run for elected office "beat 16 incredibly capable, competent people in the Republican primaries, so it’s not my place to tell him to change his campaigning style," Ivanka Trump said, her voice measured.

"I think he fights the fights that he feels are important for this country, and he'll bring that same spirit and that same energy to the White House," she said. "I think people want somebody who is going to fight for them."

Ivanka Trump said she holds no formal campaign role, but she has been by his side at key events over the last year. She and her brothers met with potential vice presidential running mates, including the eventual pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who introduced Donald Trump in Detroit on Monday.

Sometimes she has been thrust directly into the spotlight.

When USA TODAY columnist Kirsten Powers asked Donald Trump what he would hope his daughter would do if she was sexually harassed, he replied: “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case." Outcry from critics followed, questioning why a woman would have to leave a hostile workplace. Ivanka Trump said in a subsequent statement to the media that "harassment in general, sexual or otherwise, is inexcusable. At our companies, we do not tolerate harassment of any kind."

The 34-year-old married mother of three also has spoken on her father's behalf, as she did at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. She said that as a member of the Millennial generation and as a political independent, her perspective has been an asset to her father.

"I have a very close relationship with my father," she said. "I always have since I was a young girl. But over the last decade I’ve worked right along side of him side by side with both of my adult brothers at the Trump Organization," she said. "He’s been an amazing parent to me and an amazing father so we have the great familiar connection but we have also worked together as executives."

She graduated from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania, the same school attended by her father. Before joining The Trump Organization in 2005, Ivanka Trump worked at Forest City Enterprises as a real estate project manager.

Trump, like brothers Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, serves as a vice president in her father's company, specializing in development and acquisitions. Like her father, the former model markets herself across various platforms. Ivankatrump.com preaches ways to help women navigate life's ups and downs. Department stores carry her clothing line. 

In a earlier separate interview Monday with a local television station, she dismissed the idea that her father has been politically wounded by low poll numbers and is seeking to reset his campaign. She also brushed back an idea floated by her father that she could join her father's presidential cabinet, an idea she said she believes was made in tongue-in-cheek.

Donald Trump in his Detroit speech Monday argued that childcare is now the single greatest expense for many American families, exceeding the cost of housing in much of the country. He pledged that families under a Trump administration would be able to exclude childcare costs from income. He specifically cited the influence of his daughter in formulating the policy, although details were not immediately released.

Despite her focus on issues important to women, Ivanka Trump may face an uphill battle in converting those to her father's cause. Trump's opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, is leading in recent polls among people just like Ivanka Trump: college-educated white women seen as a critical group in the November election.

"I think there will be many people who will seek to diminish him," she said. But Ivanka Trump said she has faith in the American electorate.

"Everyone has one vote and the American people will make up their own minds," she said. "And they are coming out in droves in support of his fresh perspective, his honesty, his candor, his bold version for the future of this country. And the support has been tremendous."

Follow Matthew Dolan on Twitter: @matthewsdolan

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