As he announced his new maternity leave plan, Donald Trump brought out what he thought was one of his best assets in winning over women this election season: his successful daughter Ivanka. She joined him at the announcement, introduced him, and got in some good sound bites. "As a society we need to create policies that champion all parents, enabling the American family to thrive," she told the crowd. It all seemed rather presidential. But it didn't last. One bad interview later and Ivanka Trump might be the actual loser this election.
Up until this point, Ivanka has seemed above the fray that has on many occasions caused her father to lash out at criticism from the press. But those simpler times went by the wayside after she spoke with Cosmopolitan reporter Prachi Gupta, who insisted on getting a clear answer about why Donald's family leave plan only includes mothers and not fathers. Then Gupta pointed out that Trump said in 2004 that pregnancies were an "inconvenience" for businesses. Ivanka couldn't handle the criticism. Here was her response:
So I think that you have a lot of negativity in these questions, and I think my father has put forth a very comprehensive and really revolutionary plan to deal with a lot of issues. So I don't know how useful it is to spend too much time with you on this if you're going to make a comment like that.
Ivanka didn't stop there, going on to list reasons why her dad has been good to professional women over the years. But Gupta continued to press. "I would like to say that I'm sorry the questions — you're finding them negative, but it is relevant that a presidential candidate made those comments, so I'm just following up." Ivanka then implied that her dad's pregnancy comments weren't true. Gupta explained which NBC interview they came from and pressed on. Then Ivanka said, "I think what I was — there's plenty of time for you to editorialize around this," before continuing on about her dad's "really incredible plan."
When Gupta asked how the plan would be paid for, Ivanka responded that unemployment insurance would pay for the maternity leave and her father's tax plan would explain how the broader reforms like tax credits for childcare would be funded. Then, that's it. "I'm going to jump off, I have to run. I apologize," and the interview ends.
Given her good reputation more generally — as a successful professional running various businesses — this could be even more of a blow to her than her father's more outlandish campaign statements have been to him. He, after all, had a reputation for birther comments long before he announced his run for president.
Ivanka's self-defense on Twitter wasn't much better than her handling of the interview. L.V. Anderson of Slate pointed out that there are a number of flaws in her logic. Most importantly, of course this is political. And secondly, the Trump maternity leave plan is bad. Introducing maternity care without paternity care could actually make gender discrimination in hiring and pay even worse. If she can't take responsibility for the plan, faults and all, then maybe she shouldn't have signed up to sell it to the American people. They won't forget.