Is the Trump family America’s next political dynasty?

By Jasmine Taylor-Coleman
BBC News, Cleveland

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image source, AP
image captionIvanka (left) and Donald Trump Jr (right) have been involved in their father's campaign

The glaring absence of prominent Republicans from the party's convention in Cleveland raised questions about who would be filling the speaking slots in support of Donald Trump.

But, confident as ever, the New York billionaire had it covered. Waiting in the wings were a host of family members willing to get on stage.

Mr Trump's third wife Melania dominated the headlines after sections of her speech mimicked an address given by Michelle Obama - something Trump's campaign denied for more than a day before a Trump staffer took responsibility for "including some of the phrasing" used by Ms Obama.

Now with successful appearances from the likes of Donald Trump Jr, his eldest son, and anticipation ahead of Ivanka Trump's speech on Thursday, many commentators have been asking whether Mr Trump's children could also follow him into politics.

image source, Getty Images

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, a well-known critic of the 2016 Republican candidate, praised Donald Jr's speech as the "best of the convention so far" and Politico said a "political star may have been born".

Speaking at a breakfast event on Wednesday, Donald Jr said he would consider running for office when his children were older, and he would love to do it "as a patriot".

Outside Cleveland Science Center, where the Trump family was appearing that afternoon, family friend Marcy Gentry Beach said she was delighted with the reaction.

image captionMarcy Gentry Beach (right)

"We hope he will become our president some day," she said.

Her son has been a close friend of Donald Jr for 15 years, and she says the rise of the father of five, who is executive vice-president of The Trump Organization, came as no surprise. "He has really positioned himself to be a leader."

Later in the day, as Republican Party delegates gathered to hear more Trump family speeches inside the main arena, people said the Trump children had impressed them.

Vicki Berglund, a delegate from Arizona, said the younger Trumps were "more polished" than their father. She said she hoped they would attract "more millennials to get involved" with the Republican party.

Her friend Gail Griffin said she thought Donald Jr's comments about learning to drive tractors as a youngster showed the children were "down-to-earth", despite having a billionaire father, and well-educated.

"They are the perfect example of the family Donald J Trump raised… and it shows he cares about America's kids too."

Meanwhile Chancellor Torbit, a 28-year-old delegate from Baltimore, said he particularly appreciated Donald Jr's comments about his father supporting blue collar workers, and promoting them in his company.

"He brought out that Trump is working for America," he said.

image captionChancellor Torbit

Not initially a Trump supporter himself, Mr Torbit said the family would "help more people come around to him".

Presentations by Donald Jr along with Tiffany, Eric and Ivanka Trump certainly help to "humanise" the candidate, political scientist Larry Sabato told the BBC.

But it should come as no surprise that the children are willing to speak out to support their father, he added.

The children of political candidates have long spoken at conventions, and many even go on to take an active role in politics.

But the Trumps are "remarkable" because the sheer number of family members giving evening speeches - more than any past political family, including the Kennedys, the Clintons, and the Romneys, Mr Sabato said.

The high-profile appearances also highlight a historical pattern in American politics. "We may be a democracy but we seem to like oligarchy," he added.

But it does not guarantee the Trump children will also be successful in the field.

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"Jeb Bush didn't do too well," he said, referring to the brother of George W Bush and son of George HW Bush who was forced to drop out early in the 2016 primary contest.

Eric Trump, Donald Trump's third child, spoke on Wednesday as his father stood in the crowd. Initial reaction on social media was not so favourable, with commentators pointing to the lack of personal experiences and insights.

Next up is Ivanka Trump, perhaps the best known of Mr Trump's children before this convention, who takes the stage on Thursday amid high expectations.

image source, Getty Images
image captionSome of Mitt Romney's five sons campaigned for the 2012 Republican nominee

Commentators will be watching to see whether the 34-year-old former model, who works for The Trump Organization and has her own lifestyle brand, shows political as well as business potential.

So far Melania and Tiffany Trump have given personal anecdotes and family principles, while their brothers have spoken more directly about politics - attacking Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's policies.

Outside Cleveland Science Center, Abraham Marlowe, 17, who is interning for a Republican senate hopeful, said Donald Jr's measured speech had reassured him that Mr Trump's bombastic persona was for show, and he could be trusted with the presidency.

Marlowe said he wanted to see Ivanka, who is also good friends with Hillary Clinton's daughter Chelsea, stick to showing her father's human side. She should also defend him from accusations of bigotry, he added.

Whether the woman previously deemed Mr Trump's "secret weapon" emerges as a political voice herself remains to be seen.

What is certain is that Mr Trump's offspring will play an increasingly visible role as November's election approaches.