Trump's leading ladies
Despite a string of controversies that paint the US presidential candidate as a misogynistic abuser, Donald Trump has no shortage of loyal women in his corner, whether they're related to him by marriage, money or blood. Our reporter looks at the females that make up Team Trump
Published 12/10/2016 | 02:30
Hugh Hefner famously said "surrounding myself with beautiful women keeps me young"… and Donald Trump has clearly made it his life's work to do the same.
But there's a difference between staying young, and acting like an overgrown schoolboy. Trump's comments on women - ranging from the backhanded compliment to the bald insult - could well end up being his downfall in the US presidential race. Just last weekend, a 2005 tape emerged of Trump, then the front-man on reality show 'The Apprentice', bragging that "you can do anything" with women if you are a star.
Alas, the quotes are the latest in a very long line of sexist invective spewed by the presidential hopeful. The Tao Of Trump reads thus: "It really doesn't matter what they write as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass" (1991); "Heidi Klum. Sadly, she's no longer a 10" (2015); "If Hillary Clinton can't satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?" (2015).
So far, so maddening. But what of the beautiful women that have flanked him at rallies, photo ops and debates? Having a striking and poised first lady standing by a candidate's side is a trick as old as the hills, but Trump's power posse takes the conceit to entirely new, eye-popping levels. And in recent months, their effusive defending of his wayward actions has turned them into an unlikely secret weapon.
Whether related to him by blood, marriage or money, Trump's women have unfailingly come to his defence.
The Current Wife
The Slovenian supermodel-turned-jewellery designer may look like a dictionary-definition trophy wife. Yet she is said, behind closed doors, to have her husband's ear. And she has rendered Trump impervious to accusations of outright racism; he did marry an immigrant, after all. With the world's eye trained on her every move, Melania runs the risk of a mis-step or two (see: giving speeches that seem uncannily similar to Michelle Obama's, or wearing a pussy-bow blouse in a case of rather bad timing). Of Donald's "grab the p***y" comments, Malania released a statement defending her husband: "The words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me. This does not represent the man that I know. He has the heart and mind of a leader. I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world."
Choice quote: "I'm not that kind of wife who would say, 'Learn this' or 'Learn that'. I'm not a nagging wife."
The Eldest Daughter
With her Upper East Side poise and polish, 35-year-old Ivanka has been a regular on the rally circuit. She has been resolutely vocal about her father as a progressive, egalitarian spirit, saying that her father is "colour blind and gender neutral".
Politicos reckon that Ivanka is front and centre stage in a bid to lure in young female voters.
"She's the Trump secret weapon because she can speak in the first person about how women have prospered in the Trump Organisation, how Donald Trump, unlike Hillary Clinton, has paid women more than men," veteran Republican strategist Roger Stone told 'Business Insider'. "I think she helps soften Donald's rough edges, I think she's a giant asset, and I think that's why she's going to be showcased."
Choice quote: "I think the way he raised me, the way he raised Tiffany, it's a testament to the fact that he believes in inspiring women and empowering women."
The First Wife
Donald Trump's first marriage to Czech model Ivana was the stuff of gossip columnists' dreams. Their divorce, positively mired in drama and acrimony, was finalised in 1992 with a $20m settlement, (sparking Ivana's immortal line, "don't get mad get everything"). There appeared to be little love lost between the pair when in 2015 Ivana was quoted as using the world 'rape' to describe an incident between them in 1989, later noting that she felt 'violated' by the experience. Yet within weeks, Ivana was reportedly incensed at the report. "I have recently read some comments attributed to me from nearly 30 years ago at a time of very high tension during my divorce from Donald," she said in a July 2015 statement. "The story is totally without merit. Donald and I are the best of friends and together have raised three children that we love and are very proud of."
Choice quote: "I have nothing but fondness for Donald and wish him the best of luck on his campaign. Incidentally, I think he would make an incredible president."
The Other Ex-Wife
Trump had been married to Ivana for 13 years when she was famously confronted by Marla Ann Maples on an Aspen ski slope. Maples was an American actress that Trump had been having an affair with, and became his second wife. As their six-year marriage wound down, Maples took the high road and refused to call him out, even when he was spotted partying with 28-year-old Melania (she told a newspaper she was trying to think positively). The former couple seem to be on good terms, and Donald (and Melania) joined Marla for their daughter Tiffany's graduation in 2016. Maples has been steering clear of the entire presidential fandango, preferring instead to concentrate on her humanitarian work.
Choice quote: "I was never with him for his money. I wasn't there for the glamorous life or the riches."
The Less-Spotted Daughter
An Ivy League graduate who once wanted to be a popstar and has interned for 'Vogue' magazine, 22-year-old Tiffany has become an increasingly intriguing presence on the promotional trail. At this weekend's presidential debate, Tiffany decided to sit with her boyfriend Ross Mechanic on the sidelines. She has arguably had a smaller presence in her father's campaign than, say, Ivanka or his son Eric, but in July, the blonde - who has a mighty following on Instagram as one of the New York 'Snap Pack' - spoke proudly of her father at the Republican National Convention.
Choice quote: "(My father's) desire for excellence is contagious. He possesses a unique gift for bringing that trait out in others, starting with those closest to him."
The Campaign Manager
No one can say that media-savvy Conway doesn't have her work cut out for her, but her support of Trump through thick and (very, very) thin has been unstinting. Ostensibly hired to advise Trump on how to better appeal to female voters, Conway became the first woman to run a Republican general election presidential campaign. With Trump's campaign in freefall over the weekend, Conway cancelled a number of scheduled TV appearances. She then tweeted a picture of herself and Donald in his motorcade on Sunday afternoon. The plot thickens.
Choice quote: "I'll be with him 'til the bitter end. Unless…"