- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2018

When she campaigned in the midterms for Republican candidates, first lady Laura Bush said going on the stump was a “fact of life” for the members of a president’s family.

“Politics really is a family business,” Mrs. Bush said at the time. “Everyone gets involved, whether they want to or not.”

This fall, President Trump’s children have been taking on the brunt of that family responsibility, especially 40-year-old Donald Jr., who has been campaigning coast to coast on behalf of Republican candidates.

“We’re full speed ahead,” the younger Mr. Trump said in a radio interview Monday with Breitbart. “Let’s run up the score.”

Eric Trump, campaigning with wife Lara and his father in Houston on Monday night, exulted in the enormous crowd that came out to see the president stump for Sen. Ted Cruz.

“We are driving the Democrats absolutely nuts,” Eric Trump said. “They are watching this enthusiasm, and they just don’t know what to do anymore.”

Reciting strong economic data, he told the crowd that under his father’s leadership, “America is back. And this is only after two years. Imagine what he’ll do over the next six years. We’re going to win these midterms, and we will win in 2020.”

Ivanka Trump, who serves as a White House adviser to her father, also has appeared as a “special guest” at Republican fundraisers, including one with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California that raised about $3 million for congressional candidates.

“She’s a great team player,” her husband, Jared Kushner, said Monday.

Asked whether Democrats would win in November, Mr. Kushner said, “One thing I’ve learned is I wouldn’t bet against Trump. He’s a black swan — he’s been a black swan all of his life. And I just see him in politics and business. I just don’t like betting against him.”

While the president and his eldest son have maintained an aggressive fall campaign schedule, first lady Melania Trump hasn’t joined in the partisan contests. Mrs. Trump instead embarked on her first solo overseas trip this month, a multination tour in Africa that focused on health care, education, conservation and tourism.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told The Washington Post that Mrs. Trump has no plans to campaign “due to her schedule as a mother and first lady, especially with the holidays coming up.”

Polling suggests she would be an asset to Republicans; the first lady’s favorability rating rose to 59 percent in a Rasmussen survey taken after her Africa trip, easily beating the 47 percent job approval rating of her husband.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Trump hosted about 30 sixth-graders at the White House theater to see an anti-bullying movie called “Wonder” as part of National Bullying Prevention Month.

“I encourage everybody to be kind to each other, to treat each other with respect in everyday life and social media,” Mrs. Trump told the students. “Can you do that? Yes? Very good.”

Although Mrs. Trump did appear on the campaign trail in 2016, she said this month that she finds the toughest part of her role as first lady is “losing the privacy.”

“You [are] always under the microscope,” she told ABC News, referring to her life in general. “I cannot freely move anymore. Before, I could easily move, like, in a minute I could go somewhere. Now it’s a bigger production. Wherever you go, it’s a big, big production.”

Mrs. Trump stepped into politics most visibly this summer, when she raised concerns about the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that was separating illegal immigrant families at the border. She made a surprise visit to the border and later said she felt “blindsided” by the policy, which was suspended.

The first lady’s absence from the campaign trail this fall is a departure from her immediate predecessors. Michelle Obama waded into the political fray in 2010 with some reluctance, attending at least four fundraisers in the final month of the campaign, for Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin (who lost), a trio of House Democratic candidates (all of whom lost), Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias of Illinois (who lost), and newly appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado (who won).

Mrs. Bush attended about a half-dozen Republican fundraisers in her first midterm as first lady, in 2002. She significantly increased her campaign appearances for the 2004 presidential race and the 2006 midterm elections.

The star campaigner in Mr. Trump’s family this fall has been Donald Jr., who is frequently accompanied by his girlfriend, former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, who now serves as vice chairwoman of the pro-Trump political action committee America First Action. He connects with conservative audiences over his passion as an outdoorsman and hunter, and shows a knack for capturing the mood of a crowd.

Patrick Morrisey, the Republican attorney general of West Virginia who is challenging Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III, has called Donald Jr. “an independent force” on the campaign trail, praising his skills as a public speaker.

Donald Jr. and Ms. Guilfoyle campaigned for Mr. Morrisey on Monday night in West Virginia and took aim at Mr. Manchin. She called Mr. Manchin “swampy Joe” and a “political coward,” while he said the Democrat is Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s “little pet.”

The younger Mr. Trump urged his audience in West Virginia to get out and vote for the sake of his father’s agenda.

“We can’t be fat and happy and take winning for granted,” he said. “Donald Trump is on the ticket in two weeks. Make no bones about it. If you’re going to vote for him in 2020, get out and vote for him in two weeks.”

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