By Trip Gabriel
New York Times
IVYLAND, Pa. >> When Donald Trump is in trouble with women voters, he has often called on his daughter Ivanka, an executive and entrepreneur as smooth as he is rough-hewed, as calming as he is potentially alarming.
Ivanka Trump, 34, had attacked the “false narrative” of her father’s misogyny on television a month ago, and she declared in the spring that he was “not a groper” in response to a New York Times account of his treatment of women. It was she who persuaded her father to add child care support to his policy proposals.
She returned to the campaign trail Thursday for the first time since the emergence of a recording of Donald Trump vulgarly describing how he liked to grab women by the genitals and force kisses on them.
On a carefully stage-managed swing through the Philadelphia suburbs, Ivanka Trump avoided mentioning the 2005 recording or a series of accusations by women who said the Republican nominee had gone beyond braggadocio to active groping.
Metaphorically, there was a storm raging outside, but inside a series of ballrooms, at events billed as “coffee with Ivanka,” Trump answered nonchallenging questions from supporters about favorite memories of attending college in Philadelphia (“great restaurants”) and her top campaign trail moments (“those primary wins”).
Her audiences were mainly active volunteers for the Trump campaign, and the news media was kept at a distance as Ivanka Trump was whisked in and out of her appearances.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” she said in response to a typical audience question about what it was like to campaign with her father and siblings.
The events — one each in four suburban counties — had a serious political purpose: to rouse and inspire the volunteers in the closing weeks of the presidential race. The Hillary Clinton and Trump campaigns know the Philadelphia suburbs are very likely to determine the electoral fate of Pennsylvania on Election Day.
And a new Bloomberg Politics poll that coincided with Ivanka Trump’s swing held brutal news: Clinton was walloping Donald Trump in the Philadelphia suburbs by 28 percentage points, driving a 9-point lead for the Democratic nominee statewide.
Suburbanites, the survey showed, have reached harsh judgments on Trump’s remarks on the recording. More than 2 in 3 likely voters in the poll said they were bothered a lot by the comments, including 3 in 4 women.
Still, the activists who turned out for Ivanka Trump on Thursday dismissed her father’s words and were skeptical of the women’s accounts, including one by a former People magazine reporter who wrote that Donald Trump pushed her against a wall and forcibly kissed her during a visit to his estate in 2005 for an interview.
“Why are they digging things up from 11 years ago?” asked Annette Patchell, the owner of a small business here in Bucks County. “And these women that are coming out of the woodwork, why now only four weeks before the election? It seems a little odd.”
Lee Henry, a paralegal waiting in line to hear Ivanka Trump, said, “I don’t buy it at all,” referring to the accusations. “Where were all these women then?”
She sought to change the conversation to “why Hillary likes open borders,” accusing a brother of Clinton of maintaining a warehouse full of green cards to be used to grant permanent resident status to immigrants living in the country illegally.
Alice Buehler, a retiree who made phone calls for Donald Trump over the weekend, said that she had thought that the emergence of the recording would suppress the number of volunteers. “It was more crowded than ever,” she said.