Ivanka makes decision on political future

 

Ivanka Trump has reportedly decided not to mount a primary challenge against Florida Senator Marco Rubio in 2022, closing the door on one avenue for her rumoured entry into politics.

Former President Donald Trump's eldest daughter had been considering a run for the Senate in the Sunshine State, as part of her father's broader war on the Republican Party establishment and elected members accused of disloyalty.

But according to Politico, Ivanka - who served as a top White House adviser to her father - told Mr Rubio last month that she would not mount a primary challenge against him.

"Ivanka offered her support for Marco's re-election and they had a great talk," a Rubio spokesperson told the publication, adding that they would look to host a joint event highlighting their support for expanding the child tax credit.

It comes after reports that Ivanka was plotting her "re-emergence" plan with a Kim Kardashian-style focus on criminal justice reform - and that she had been heavily involved in lobbying for some 140 pardons and commutations in the final days of her father's administration.

Mr Trump's 11th-hour grants of clemency - which included several rappers and corrupt former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick - angered many of his supporters, who had long campaigned for the pardoning of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Both were notably absent from the list.

Despite her political ambitions and family name, Ivanka's progressive leanings make her a hard sell for the Trump base.

Critics inside the White House nicknamed Ivanka "HABI", or "home of all bad ideas", while her husband Jared Kushner was dubbed "secretary of everything" for his wide-ranging meddling.

"Whether she was or not, she was always supposed to be the 'moderating influence' (on her father), which doesn't make you very popular with the average Republican voter," The Atlantic's political writer McKay Coppins told The Times.

"There are not a lot of people calling out for Ivanka to run."

 

 

Mr Rubio is now well positioned for re-election, and even a possible 2024 presidential bid.

In recent months the 49-year-old has attempted to position himself as a future leader of the party.

"Republicans need to compete for every voter (the Democratic Party) has left behind," he wrote in a recent opinion piece.

"Going forward, the GOP must be a multiethnic, multiracial coalition of hardworking Americans who love their country. Now, Republicans must produce the policy agenda and defence of all that is great about America that we owe these voters."

It comes days after Mr Trump launched a scathing attack on "hack" Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, after the senior Republican took to the well of the Senate to savage the former President in a 20-minute tirade following his impeachment acquittal.

In a lengthy statement released by his Save America political action committee on Tuesday, Mr Trump threw down the gauntlet to the Republican establishment, vowing "where necessary and appropriate" to back primary challenges for candidates "who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First".

"The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political 'leaders' like Senator Mitch McConnell at its helm," Mr Trump said.

The Kentucky Senator - who is the longest-serving Republican leader in the Senate - has attempted to use the impeachment to draw a line under the Trump era, telling Politico that he would work to support "electable" Republican candidates in 2022, even if that meant backing candidates Mr Trump does not support.

"Mitch is a dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again," Mr Trump said in his statement. "We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, compassionate leadership."

Ivanka's backdown on Mr Rubio suggests the former critic has fallen in line with the Trump wing of the party, alongside the likes of South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who criticised Mr McConnell's comments as unhelpful ahead of the 2022 elections.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has also attempted to patch things up with Mr Trump, who retains overwhelming support among Republican voters despite the Capitol riots on January 6.

Firebrand pro-Trump House members including Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz have been leading the charge to mount primary challenges against their colleagues who voted for impeachment - chief among them Wyoming's Liz Cheney.

 

 

Last month, Mr Rubio looked extremely uncomfortable when asked about the possibility of running against the former First Daughter during an interview with Fox News.

Asked by Chris Wallace how seriously he took the challenge, Mr Rubio stammered, "Well, I, I, I don't really get into the parlour games of Washington other than to tell you that when you decide to run for re-election in a state like Florida, you have to be prepared for a competitive race, you run it like a competitive race, so that's what I'm preparing to run, a very competitive race against a tough opponent."

He added, "If you're going to run for Florida Senate you're going to have a tough race, and that might include a primary, that's their right under our system. I don't own the Senate seat, it doesn't belong to me. If I want to be back in the US Senate I have to earn that every six years."

Smirking, Wallace pressed, "And Ivanka Trump? What's the feeling - the water's fine, jump on in?"

Mr Rubio replied, "I, I like Ivanka, we worked very well together on issues, and she's a US - look, anybody can decide to run if they want to, I mean I'm not entitled to anything, I've got to earn my way forward. I'm very proud of our record, I would point to the last four years working with President Trump and the White House."

In 2017, a photograph of Mr Rubio awkwardly trying to go in for a hug with Ivanka went viral, with both later joking on Twitter about the "alleged failed hug".

Another memorable Rubio moment was his "glitch" during the 2016 Republican debates, where he was mocked for appearing to "short-circuit" and repeatedly utter the same canned line - "Let's dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing."

There was also his frantic water bottle swigging as he delivered the Republican response to Mr Obama's 2013 State of the Union Speech.

Meanwhile, new photos of Ivanka last week showed the 39-year-old settling into her new, more laid-back lifestyle in Miami.

Ivanka and Mr Kushner moved their family to South Florida following Mr Trump's election defeat, and are currently renting a luxury residence at the Arte Surfside - just one hour from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort - as they wait for their new $US32 million ($A41 million) property in Indian Creek Island to be ready to move into, the Miami Herald reported.

Units in the complex are believed to cost an average of $US40,000 ($A51,000) per month in rent, according to CNN, and the couple are believed to have signed a one-year lease.

 

frank.chung@news.com.au

Originally published as Ivanka makes decision on political future



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