US Elections 2016: Final countdown

Ivanka hits campaign trail to inspire volunteers

Ms Ivanka Trump answering non-challenging questions from supporters during a "coffee with Ivanka" event in Ivyland, Pennsylvania, on Thursday. She avoided mentioning accusations of groping by her father.
Ms Ivanka Trump answering non-challenging questions from supporters during a "coffee with Ivanka" event in Ivyland, Pennsylvania, on Thursday. She avoided mentioning accusations of groping by her father.PHOTO: NYTIMES

IVYLAND (Pennsylvania) • When Mr 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-hewn, as calming as he is potentially alarming.

Ms 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 childcare support to his policy proposals.

She returned to the campaign trail on Thursday for the first time since the emergence of a recording of Mr 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, Ms 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", she answered non-challenging questions from supporters about favourite 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 Ms 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 Ms Trump's swing held brutal news: Mrs Clinton was walloping Mr Trump in the Philadelphia suburbs by 28 percentage points, driving a nine-point lead for the Democratic nominee statewide.

Still, the activists who turned out for Ms Trump on Thursday dismissed her father's words and were sceptical of the women's accounts, including one by a former People magazine reporter who wrote that Mr 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 Ms 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."

Ms Alice Buehler, a retiree who made phone calls for Mr Trump over the weekend, said she had thought that the emergence of the recording would suppress the number of volunteers. "It was more crowded than ever," she said.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2016, with the headline 'Ivanka hits campaign trail to inspire volunteers'. Print Edition | Subscribe