Before the Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump, settled into the longest accepatance speech in Republican National Convention history, his daughter Ivanka Trump stood up on stage in Cleveland and introduced a man who sounded pretty great for women and families.
She talked about closing wage gaps and affordable childcare, and kind of talked about women like they should be taken seriously as workers and mothers—and worker-mothers. She said the idea that government policies aimed at supporting women, children and families should be a normal part of American life. Then she introduced her dad, Donald Trump, in a way that would have us think these ideas and policy initiatives would be his, should he be elected president.
Needless to say, there was pushback, putting Trump's past statements about women, children and childcare—and his own companies' and his 2016 campaign staff's realities—against the promises she made on his behalf.
Sure, Trump is no stranger to hiring women; no one is disputing that part of his daughter's speech. But last night was the first mention ever from his campaign that he's making some kind of promise to the American people. Those promises raise a lot of questions, considering statements less than a year ago. In New Hampshire, a woman asked him whether he supports equal pay for equal work. “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job,” he told her. Not exactly a 5-point plan.
And, sure, a convention introduction sholudn't have to go deep on wonky stuff like policy. As Rebecca Traister points out in her NY Mag update from the RNC, Ivanka showed her own lack of understanding around the facts of unequal pay, its root causes and basic stats about who makes up the U.S. labor force (lots of women, many single moms). Ivanka has no doubt been campaigning pro bono, which is why she's probably unaware that her dad's campaign pays staff women less than men.
Traister points out Trump has said we have to be careful in creating a climate of paid maternity (and, we presume, paternity) leave, arguing it costs too much and makes us uncompetitive. He's said pregnant women are an "inconvenience" for employers.
And on affordable childcare as policy? Ivanka wants it to be the norm. Trump himself thinks employers can handle it, offering himself as an example.
"It's not expensive for a company to do it. You need one person or two people, and you need some blocks and you need some swings and some toys," the Washington Post reported. "You know, surely, it's not expensive. It's not an expensive thing. I do it all over, and I get great people because of it. ... It's something that can be done, I think, very easily by a company."
His daughter didn't bring up breastfeeding, but that's a reality for working moms, too. But back in 2011, when a lawyer taking a deposition from Trump asked for a break to pump breastmilk, he had what the lawyer described as a "meltdown."
"He got up, his face got red, he shook his finger at me and he screamed, 'You're disgusting, you're disgusting,' and he ran out of there," attorney Elizabeth Beck told CNN's Alisyn Camerota.