Republicans find their ‘Kennedy clan’ in Trump's children

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Cleveland
  • Updated: Jul 22, 2016 13:09 IST
Tiffany Trump (left), Donald Trump Jr and his wife Vanessa Trump look on during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Thursday. (AFP)

Donald Trump unleashed the last of them on Thursday, just minutes before he took the stage to accept the Republican party’s nomination. His children have been his best weapon at the convention.

They have been followed around, gawked at, selfied with, reported about and just generally celebrated. Some Republicans are saying the party may have found its “Kennedy clan”.

“Just look at those kids,” said Buffie Ingersoll, a delegate from Houston, Texas. “We have had the Bushes…but they are…” One of them is based in her state, remember.

But the Trump family is like the “Kennedy clan”, she added, with matching glamour and lifestyle. And, said another delegate who refused to be identified, “minus the scandals”.

They are not just nice looking, smart and eloquent. They have emerged as important surrogates for Trump at the convention, meeting Republican leaders and donors.

And most significantly, they have offered the strongest character testimonial for their father, humanising a deeply polarising figure who has appeared brash, boorish and inconsiderate.

“In person, my father is so friendly, so considerate, so funny, and so real,” Tiffany Trump, the nominee’s daughter from his second marriage, said in a speech, setting the tone.

She kept all her report cards from school, she said, because of the “sweet notes he wrote on each and every one of them”, which were about everything and anything but grades.

(Left to right) Ivanka Trump, wife of Eric Trump, Lara Yunaska, and Tiffany Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. (AFP)

Donald Trump Jr and EricTrump, sons from his first marriage, described a father who brought them up to be as comfortable in a construction site vehicle as in their own cars.

And their sister Ivanka Trump, her father’s favourite according to her siblings, was given the task of introducing the nominee at the convention’s most important event, his acceptance speech.

If Trump it seen banking too heavily on his children, he probably has good reasons for it. Or, as his running mate Mike Pence said, “As we say back home, you can't fake good kids.”

Presidential nominees are known to use children to bolster their appeal — Barack Obama did in 2008. The image of his family of four with two small children signalled change.

“That image of the four of them (the Obamas)…during his convention, was quite powerful,” said Ed O’Keefe, a Washington Post reporter who’s covered six conventions.

“The idea of having young children in the country’s house was appealing to a lot of people, or they liked the idea of that,” he added. Malia and Sasha, who are much older now, helped.

And now the Trumps. O’Keefe said, “Generally, they’ve been received very well by the American public…They seem to be upstanding citizens and loyal children to their devoted father.”

But can they get their father to the White House?

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