As Donald Trump prepared to launch a White House bid that has erupted into rants against undocumented immigrants and an exchange of markedly personal insults with rivals, his daughter dispensed some advice about, as she put it, dealing with adversity.
It was not the particular words that were notable, but who Ivanka Trump was quoting: Chelsea Clinton.
“Life is not about what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you,” the younger Trump tweeted to her 1.6 million followers in May, citing the first daughter and affixing the hashtag #wisewords.
The longtime friendship between Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump is one of those phenomena of life among the fabulously wealthy and ridiculously famous that can be tough to fathom for the rest of us. These families that are publicly positioned as rivals have a history together, not all of it acrimonious. The Donald’s unapologetic opportunism and the knack of the Clintons for charming even ideological opposites who happen to have deep pockets seem to have brought them close.
Still, the parents have had a very public split, and it is unclear how that will impact the relationship between the children who are fiercely loyal to them.
Neither daughter seems to be flinching. Ivanka Trump has spoken out forcefully about the bad rap her father is getting from the media, how his words are being twisted and why it is silly to call a man who does so much business with Mexicans a xenophobe. It’s well-established that Chelsea Clinton is her mother’s biggest booster.
The daughters are holding their ground as the barbs exchanged between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump become particularly sharp. Clinton accuses Trump of demonizing the hardworking laborers who toil in the shadows, washing dishes and picking fruit, cynically appealing to the worst instincts of Republican primary voters with racist rhetoric.
He isn’t holding back, either. “She is desperate, she is sad,” Trump posted on Facebook last week. “Hillary should spend more time producing her illegally hidden emails and less time trying to obfuscate a statement by me that is totally clear and obviously very much accepted by the public as true.”
Never mind that Clinton attended Trump’s wedding in 2005, where she sat in a front pew and later joined her husband at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach for the reception. Or the $100,000 donation Trump gave to the Clinton Foundation, which he partially explained to the Daily Mail recently by saying of Bill and Hillary Clinton, “They do kiss my ass.”
The unusual on-again, off-again alliance between the candidates may be very much off at the moment, but some awkward footprints remain online. Trump has one particular post on Twitter that he might like to see wiped off the Internet for good, when he told the world in 2012 why Chelsea Clinton is such an “amazing” woman.
“She’s got the best of both parents,” he wrote. He tweeted after Hillary Clinton was in the hospital being treated for a blood clot in her head to express how great it was to see her recovering, with Chelsea and Bill Clinton escorting her home.
It may be some time before the Clintons are sipping cocktails again with the Donald on the terrace of one of his tony properties. But Chelsea Clinton — the foundation leader, NBC News personality and former first daughter — was spotted just a few months ago enjoying a meal in New York’s trendy East Village with her friend Ivanka Trump, the former model and TV star who is vice president of her father’s business empire. They were dining at a restaurant called Narcissa.
Earlier in the year, Chelsea Clinton told Vogue magazine how down-to-earth Ivanka Trump is, saying she is “always aware of everyone around her and ensuring that everyone is enjoying the moment.”
Then she paid Trump an extremely high compliment — but one that would probably make Donald grimace these days. “It’s an awareness that in some ways reminds me of my dad,” Clinton said of her friend Ivanka, “and his ability to increase the joy of the room.”
Times staff writer Brian Bennett contributed to this report.