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The Schmooze

Is Ivanka Trump the Donald’s Brainy (Jewish) Better Half?

(JTA) — Ivanka is to Donald Trump as Lisa is to Homer Simpson: brainy, composed and unflinchingly loyal to her outrageous and unpredictable father.

At least that’s the portrait painted in a Politico article published Thursday. The article explores the relationship between the Republican presidential frontrunner and the daughter who has managed to grow up gracefully under his glaring spotlight.

Last month, the article’s author, Michael D’Antonio, published the biography “Never Enough: Donald Trump and his Pursuit of Success.” Here, he draws from his interviews with Ivanka Trump, 33, to examine her affect on The Donald’s campaign.

When Fox News host Sean Hannity asked Donald Trump whom he counts on most, the real estate mogul first named Ivanka Trump. When entangled in yet another web of his own words, this time over questionably misogynistic remarks aimed at Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in August, Donald Trump again invoked his daughter.

“So my daughter Ivanka, who is a terrific person, she came to me and she said, ‘You care so much about women, and you care so much about the whole thing with women’s health issues,’” he said in a profile in the Hollywood Reporter shortly after the controversy erupted. “She said, ‘You are really misunderstood, and you have to get the word out.’”

Privately, Ivanka Trump is said to try to shape her father’s opinions – or at least help him walk them back. New York magazine reported that she allegedly provided him with several statements to backtrack from his anti-immigrant comments, which he nevertheless rejected.

Publicly, however, she remains mum on his gaffes. She shrugged the Kelly incident off as “sensationalized,” saying it “didn’t interest me much.”

Her presence seems to have a humanizing effect on Donald Trump’s image, making his unsavory outbursts easier to swallow. Even those who write him off as a raving bigot would have a hard time denying that he managed to raise an intelligent, rational and compassionate young woman.

(Ivanka Trump’s ability to straddle both political parties in her private life adds to this sense of sensibility. D’Antonio points out that Trump has criticized President Barack Obama on Fox News but also fundraised for liberal Democratic New Jersey Senator Corey Booker, and is friends with Chelsea Clinton.)

Having grown up playing in her father’s office, Ivanka Trump now has her own one floor down. By 16 she had launched a modeling career but pivoted in her 20s toward business, demonstrating sharp judgment, insightful and direct criticism and a placid demeanor — all in evidence when she joined her father as a judge on his popular reality TV series “The Apprentice.”

She is currently an executive vice president of development and acquisitions at The Trump Organization (focusing on Trump hotels and fashion-related enterprises), where her brothers Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump are also officers.

In 2009, Ivanka Trump converted to Orthodox Judaism for her nuptials to real estate mogul Jared Kushner; the couple now has two children. She has spoken about her religious observance and the influence of Judaism on raising her family.

Familial loyalty is something she clearly learned in her own upbringing. Trump introduced her father when he announced his candidacy in June, a duty often assumed by a candidate’s spouse. If the campaign is any indication, she might serve as a de facto first lady in a Donald Trump White House. Trump’s current wife, Melena Knauss, has mostly taken a backseat on the campaign trail thus far.

Perhaps recognizing the scrutiny and obligations that a Trump presidency would inflict on her and her family, Ivanka Trump hedged on a question about whether she is happy about his run for the presidency. Speaking at the Fortune Most Powerful Women summit in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, she said, “As a citizen, I love what he’s doing. As a daughter, it’s obviously more complicated.”

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