Back in August, Ivanka Trump attended a fundraiser in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. During the fundraiser, she was asked to name the personality traits that she inherited from her parents.
Without a moment’s hesitation, she told the crowd of 100 plus high dollar donors that her mother gave her an example of how to be a “powerful, successful woman.”
And then Ivanka Trump added that from her father she inherited her moral compass. The swanky event was organized by Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and held in the Wyoming mountains. Her appearance at the event was an attempt to woo big-dollar donors.
The goal of sending Ivanka Trump to the event was to lean on her celebrity status to make donors feel like they were part of the Trump clan “show.”
Trump’s campaign also believed that Ivanka’s attendance would somehow humanize a brash president best known for Twitter tantrums, media bashing and boasting about himself and his wealth.
“As a Trump donor, it is energizing to hear stories about President Trump being personal and engaged on the issues,” said Dan Eberhart, chief executive officer of Canary LLC, a Colorado-based energy company and Trump supporter. “The media consistently and conspicuously omits any stories of the president being human or personally engaging, so these firsthand accounts really help paint a fuller picture of what’s happening inside the White House.”
What Ivanka Trump did at the fundraiser is not a new strategy. Using personal stories to woo donors is a long-standing political strategy. Family members like Ivanka as well as aides and the White House chief of staff will most likely be used again to remind donors what is unique about Trump as a candidate or to share stories about how Trump interacts with his family and friends.
After referring to his son Barron as “Melania’s son” or the story that he did not want his oldest son named after him because he worried he’d be a loser or that he wanted Marla Maples to have an abortion sharing real family stories appears to be something the Trump campaign would not want to focus on.
“This is a very low-cost way to make a big donor feel special,” said Tammy Vigil, an associate professor of communication at Boston University. “The idea is to make people feel like they have the inside scoop. You could think of it as being akin to spending the night in the Lincoln Bedroom, which donors used to get to do.”
“It’s the storytelling that has become the selling point,” Vigil added. “The stories may not actually be accurate, but it still gives people a sense of connectedness.”
During Ivanka Trump’s conversation at the fundraiser, which was moderated by former “Entertainment Tonight” host Mary Hart, Donald Trump called into the event and was put on speakerphone. Donors were reportedly delighted to hear from him.