Ivanka: I’m not the First Lady

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No, Ivanka Trump will not fill the role of the First Lady in the incoming administration run by her father, and the question “rankles her a bit,” according to ABC’s Deborah Roberts. With Melania Trump choosing to remain primarily in New York with their young son Barron for the first few months of the new administration and Ivanka separating herself from her own business, speculation grew that she would take over the ceremonial duties that would normally fall to Melania. Roberts says that Ivanka sees that speculation as “a bit sexist,” as if two strong women from the same family could not find their own roles and identities in the White House:

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Ivanka Trump dispelled speculation that she would be filling in as a surrogate first lady or occupying the East Wing office of the White House, traditionally reserved for the president’s wife.

Speculation that Ivanka Trump would fill in for incoming first lady Melania Trump started swirling after Trump transition sources said Melania Trump was not expected to move to Washington, D.C., until the spring after her and President-Elect Donald Trump’s 10-year-old son, Barron Trump, finishes the school year. But Donald Trump’s eldest daughter said those speculations were “an inappropriate observation.”

“There is one first lady, and she’ll do remarkable things,” Ivanka Trump told ABC News’ “20/20” in an exclusive interview.

Perhaps the issue is less that of “sexist” thinking and more of a lack of precedent. It’s been a while since an incoming president had this many family members in key advisory roles. Usually children and in-laws kept to the background, but with Ivanka and Jared Kushner taking an active role in the White House, the temptation is to slot them into more traditional ceremonial roles.

Reuters expects Melania Trump to “rewrite” the role of First Lady, and clearly so does Ivanka:

Melania may already be doing that to a small extent by prioritizing Barron over the ceremonial functions of the role in the first few months. However, the role and function of First Lady hasn’t been rewritten over the years as much as Reuters’ report suggests. Each First Lady puts her own personality as a stamp on her time in the role, but the role itself hasn’t changed much at all. The one First Lady who tried rewriting the role into that of a policy adviser and political whip — Hillary Clinton — ended up damaging the president and quickly returning to its traditional parameters after a midterm humiliation. Don’t expect Melania to walk down that road, even if Ivanka might.

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