Give Donald Trump a chance, incoming first daughter Ivanka is asking fellow Americans as her father readies to be sworn in as president of a sharply divided country on Friday.
Yet in an interview with ABC News, aired on the eve of the inauguration, the businesswoman and mother of three also admitted to urging her father to cut out some of his more controversial tweets.
“My father is an incredible unifier. For every critic, I would say give him time. Let him come into office. Let him prove you wrong,” the 35-year-old told ABC as she prepares to move to Washington.
Asked what she would say to tens of thousands of protesters expected to march across the United States Saturday who are worried that the incoming Republican administration will roll back rights, she replied: “I say, give my father a chance.”
Ivanka, whose husband has been appointed a White House advisor, is stepping down from both the family business and from running her fashion label to avoid conflict of interest accusations.
Known to be a calming influence on Trump, she said she gave her father “my feedback, solicited or otherwise” when it came to his twitter feed, adding “of course, at times, I tell him not to.”
Yet she also sought to dispel press speculation that she will become de facto first lady as her stepmother Melania stays in New York until the Trumps’ 10-year-old son, Barron, has at least finished the school year.
“There is one first lady and Melania will be an incredible first lady. I’m proud of her. She is intelligent, warm, caring and a remarkable person,” Ivanka told ABC.
But she was equally careful not to rule out a role for herself.
“My focus is moving to Washington, travelling around the country and listening and getting great feedback on how I can add positive value,” she told ABC.
She praised her husband Jared Kushner, whose White House appointment raised fears about nepotism, as a “remarkable human being.”
She also maintained that Chelsea Clinton was still “a very good friend,” despite the bitterness of the general election between her father and Chelsea’s Democratic mother Hillary Clinton.
Asked whether she will call her father Mr President, Ivanka replied: “He is always Dad.”
Trump enters with fewer stars but patriotic fervor
Donald Trump couldn’t woo many top stars to perform for his inauguration but he surrounded himself Thursday in patriotic fervor at a concert anchored by country music veterans.
On the eve of his inauguration as the 45th president of the United States, Trump threw a celebration on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that culminated in fireworks that lit up the Washington sky.
Trump swayed happily to the music in his chair behind bulletproof glass and delivered a speech urging unity, but his show lacked the superstars who performed for his predecessor Barack Obama such as Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen and U2.
The top A-lister was Toby Keith, one of the biggest country music stars of the 1990s.
Keith is known for his forthright patriotic themes but played down partisanship Thursday. The singer has spoken with admiration about Obama in the past.
Opening with “American Soldier,” Keith hailed the US military and added: “Thanks to Barack Obama for your service and thanks for the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump. I salute you.”
Keith performed “Beer for My Horses,” which speaks of cracking down on crime and corruption, a song that dovetails nicely with Trump’s tough-on-crime campaign rhetoric, although Keith originally recorded the track with country legend Willie Nelson, who like many artists is a critic of Trump.
Another country music veteran, outspoken conservative Lee Greenwood, played his 1984 anthem “God Bless the U.S.A.,” after which Trump came over and clasped the performer’s shoulders.
Country music traditionally has a whiter, more right-leaning fan base than other US genres and Greenwood’s entry onto stage was teased during a medley of hits performed by the Frontmen of Country group.
– Flickers of diversity –
As is customary for inaugurations, Trump was feted by military bands. He earlier hailed their skills and said he wanted an “elegant” occasion.
But Trump’s team had tried to no avail to secure A-listers including pop greats Elton John and Celine Dion and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.
Broadway singer Jennifer Holliday, who would have been a rare African American performer at the inauguration, bowed out after a backlash from her largely gay fan base.
The celebration in the end was not devoid of African Americans. Sam Moore, an 81-year-old R&B great best known for “Soul Man,” sang patriotic hymn “God Bless America,” backed by a choir and organ with a gospel cadence.
He was introduced by “Midnight Cowboy” actor Jon Voight who, appearing to mangle the name of the music industry’s top prize, called Moore a “Gramming Award-winning singer.”
Other performers included pop outfits 3 Doors Down and Piano Guys as well as DJ RaviDrums, an Indian American percussionist who contributed to the film “Slumdog Millionaire.”
The artist, who incorporated a patriotic theme into his set, said in a televised interview that he debated whether to perform for Trump but his immigrant father said it would confirm the American dream.
– No invitation to Kanye –
Despite spending decades in the celebrity world, Trump enjoyed little support from artists during the campaign in which the real estate tycoon vowed to take a tough line on Mexican immigrants, Muslims and other minorities.
He ultimately won through narrow state victories thanks to working-class white voters’ support.
Some of the many entertainers who backed his rival Hillary Clinton including pop superstar Katy Perry are coming to Washington one day after the inauguration for a women-led march to press the new Trump administration on civil rights and other issues.
One of the few top celebrities who supported Trump, rapper Kanye West, was apparently not invited to perform.
West recently suffered a mental breakdown but re-emerged at Trump Tower, the president-elect’s skyscraper home in New York, where he shook his hands before cameras.
Tom Barrack, a Trump friend in charge of inauguration programming, praised West but told CNN the rapper was not invited as the Trump team wanted “typically and traditionally American” entertainment.