An event yesterday in Germany was Ivanka Trump's first outing as an official White House representative. It wasn't an easy start.
In some ways, the W20 women's entrepreneurship summit in Berlin should have been friendly territory for Trump, a successful businesswoman and outspoken advocate on issues such as paid family leave. But it seems the assembled entrepreneurs were unwilling to separate Trump's personal rhetoric from the actions of her father's divisive administration (and controversial comments about women during the campaign).
A very chilly reception
Sharing the stage with German chancellor Angela Merkel, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, and Miriam Meckel, editor-in-chief of German newspaper WirtschaftsWoche, Trump was asked about her new role in the White House.
Responding that she was still finding her feet in the high-profile but ill-defined position, Trump asserted that she was "very proud of my father's advocacy," adding that he is "a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive."
The response, as you can see from this video, was less than enthusiastic -- the audience booed and hissed.
Asked to address to the hostile reaction, Trump blamed "the criticism from the media, that's been perpetuated." The mostly female audience responded with sarcastic laughter.
Undaunted, Trump continued to defend her father's treatment of women, noting his support of her own ambitions and the important roles women such as Kellyanne Conway played in his campaign "The thousands of women who have worked with and for my father for decades... are testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women, and their ability to do the job as well as any man," she argued.
Did this line of reasoning convince the audience? That remains to be seen, but the experience was certainly a baptism by fire for Trump, though one she seems to have taken in stride. "Politics is politics, as I'm learning," Trump commented after the event, "I think the fact that he's embraced my interest in taking on this role shows that he aligns with the interests I most deeply care about and advocate for. Otherwise it wouldn't make for a very good family dynamic."
Nepotism as well as chauvinism?
Others interpreted her father's decision to elevate her to a White House position and send her to the event far less positively. On social media, Trump's appearance at the event also drew criticism on the grounds of its apparent nepotism. "Ivanka, the US president's advisor, in Berlin for a summit on women and 'MERITOCRACY.' She was sent there by her daddy, the president," tweeted one well known Italian journalist.
"What does a daughter with no political experience have to do in the White House?" Andrea Seibel, an editor at Die Welt, also wondered ahead of Trump's visit. "We have family clan experiences in autocracies. Ivanka Trump isn't elected, she is a daughter. She didn't say anything in the elections when he was saying nasty things about women and migrants. She is his voice, but somehow she has a nicer face."
Do you think Ivanka Trump's White House role is a sign of her father's respect for women, or his comfort with nepotism?