Chelsea Clinton said after debate #1 that Donald Trump’s threat to bring up her father’s infidelities was a desperate attempt to distract from Trump’s lack of substance on real issues. Trump has said he didn’t bring it up because he didn’t want to be cruel to Chelsea. “I thought it would be disrespectful to Chelsea and maybe to the family,” Trump said. Or maybe he thought decades-old infidelities weren’t foremost on minds of economically struggling voters?
That could have been part of the political calculation, but Trump was probably telling the truth this time. He is, after all, very conscious about his daughter Ivanka’s feelings (he has famously said he might date her if she wasn’t his daughter.) And Ivanka Trump and Chelsea Clinton are friends — very close friends. As recently as August, Ivanka testified that her Chelsea friendship was strong, telling Greta Van Susteren that it “hadn’t changed,” and that Chelsea is “a great girl and a great friend to me.” Chelsea then said in September that they will “be friends long after this election,” expressing her “tremendous respect” for Ivanka. But can the Chelsea-Ivanka bond survive two more rude and rancorous debates? Both women will again be sitting in the front row.