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Getting To Know Ivanka Trump

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It is just over a week until the Republican convention kicks off in Cleveland. And at this convention, we can expect to see a star lineup of Donald Trump's own kids. All his grown children are expected to speak. But the clear focus will be on his daughter, Ivanka, who has played a key role in her father's presidential run so far.

Ivanka may even introduce Trump when he accepts the nomination on the final night. And all this spurred by - remarks by Senator Bob Corker, who suggested Wednesday Ivanka would actually be Trump's, quote, "best running mate." He said that as he took himself out of the running for that job. We wanted to get a sense of who Ivanka Trump is. So we called up Gabriel Sherman. He recently wrote about her in New York magazine.

GABRIEL SHERMAN: She's clearly the most well-known in the public eye as a result of her star turn on her dad's reality show, "The Apprentice," where she was a regular fixture in the boardroom. And she parlayed that celebrity into a brand of her own. She has - sells products - lifestyle products, fashion lines, jewelry, shoes. By all accounts, she's a very experienced and successful businesswoman in her own right.

I mean, the people I talk to in business, fashion and media circles in New York City all say that they come away from their interactions with Ivanka Trump very impressed. And she's, you know, leading some of the Trump family's highest profile projects - you know, the redevelopment of the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C., into a luxury hotel.

MARTIN: You can point to that project and understand the awkward intersection between her family's politics and their business ventures because the restaurant that was supposed to be in that hotel was supposed to be run by Jose Andres, a very renowned chef in D.C. He said he didn't want to have anything to do with the project after Donald Trump made those incendiary comments about Mexican immigrants. And so Ivanka, I imagine, is in kind of a tough spot.

SHERMAN: Oh, without question, and that's a great example you bring up. You know, as a result of that restaurant deal falling apart, there was litigation. And in those court papers, we got to see some fascinating emails between Jose Andres' executive team and Ivanka Trump and her siblings. And you see in these emails where they're kind of panicked and trying to see - can we get our dad to, you know, be more on script when he's giving these public comments? And she tried very hard to salvage that deal. And it did not happen.

And I think that last summer was a period of time where Ivanka Trump was more worried about her father's rhetoric impeding her own business ventures because, you know, a lot of her brand is that she's accessible to everyone. If you're starting to demagogue and demonize certain ethnic groups, that's not good business. But I think over time she has not seen, as I understand, any big falloff in the sales of her products. And so I think she's more at peace with letting her father be the politician he's going to be and trying to, you know, isolate or silo that from her own business.

MARTIN: We have seen Ivanka, even in the last trimester of her latest pregnancy, crisscross the country to be with her father on the campaign trail. We have seen her serve as a de facto political spouse in some ways, which is, granted, a weird thing to say. But there are lots of reasons for that. Donald Trump's wife, Melania, isn't as comfortable in the public eye. And English isn't her first language. In that role, has she been able to temper the criticisms around Trump's more controversial remarks, in particular as it pertains to women? Is that something she has tried to do?

SHERMAN: Clearly, she's tried to do it. And she will continue to do it. I think she helps. You know, clearly it gives Donald Trump a talking point to have her out there. And she is a very strong, independent daughter. But again, I don't think that tempers or washes away his other comments that he's made about women in the past and he continues to make about Hillary Clinton.

But we will see her very front and center at the Republican convention in Cleveland. By all accounts, I'm hearing that she's going to play a starring role. She will be speaking in prime time. This will very be much - the convention will be a Trump family convention. I think we're going to see a break from the past, where that it's kind of a laundry list of political speeches. I think we're going to see Trump highlighting his children and his family and try to make this more of a cult of personality around him versus the Republican Party.

MARTIN: Gabriel Sherman, he recently wrote about Ivanka Trump for New York magazine. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.