Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, have long enjoyed a reputation as his closest advisers. Yet when Trump fired his campaign manager and installed two new operatives in his place, the Jewish power couple was far from the action, enjoying the good life in Croatia and hanging out with Vladimir Putin’s rumored girlfriend,.
The reshuffle saw the sidelining of Paul Manafort, the campaign chief who was pushing for Trump to moderate his rhetoric. That was what Ivanka and Jared wanted as well — but the new marquee hire is Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News, who as the campaign’s chief executive will push an opposing strategy. Pollster Kellyanne Conway will take over as campaign manager, leaving Manafort with the title of campaign chairman.
“Trump’s stunning decision,” the Washington Post observed “sent a signal, perhaps more clearly than ever, that the real-estate magnate intends to finish this race on his own terms, with friends who share his instincts at his side.”
In his role as top executive at Breitbart, Bannon led the publication to an aggressively pro-Trump attitude, echoing the candidate’s blunt and controversial rhetoric. Ivanka Trump had been seeking ways to project a softer image and to steer her father away from messages that could turn off entire voter groups. She reportedly even drafted a clarification for Trump, after his comment about Mexican immigrants “bringing crime” and being “rapists.” Trump never used the letter.
Conway, Trump’s new campaign manager, has already served as a surrogate for Trump on TV news shows. During the controversy over his Star of David ad Conway took to the airways to defend Trump, referring to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump as validators of Trump’s positive attitudes toward the Jewish community. “They know the full measure of a man and we all know that Mr. Trump opened up his club in Florida to Jewish members for the first time. That’s much more important in my view in measuring the way someone looks at people,” Conway said.
Bannon led Breitbart News during its recent very public spat with its once wunderkind Ben Shapiro, a young Jewish conservative superstar who denounced Trump and eventually left Breitbart and its strongly pro-Trump coverage.
Shapiro came under a barrage of anti-Semitic attacks after saying some of Trump’s supporters were racist. At the heat of the dispute, Breitbart, under Bannon’s lead, ran an attack piece against Shapiro mocking his claims of anti-Semitism.
“He has started playing the victim on Twitter and throwing around allegations of anti-semitism and racism, just like the people he used to mock,” the article said. “Ben, no one hates Jewish people.”
Nathan Guttman staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Contact Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @nathanguttman