NEW YORK, New York, December 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – President-elect Donald Trump named campaign manager Kellyanne Conway — the first woman from either major party to lead a presidential candidate to victory in the general election — as Counselor to the President.
After shepherding the Trump campaign, Conway, who has advised pro-life groups on messaging, and has a considerable history speaking for and taking part in pro-life events, has served as a senior member of the Trump transition.
Officials said Thursday that the strategist and pollster will continue her role as a close adviser to the president while also working with senior leadership to “effectively message and execute the administration's legislative priorities and actions.”
“Kellyanne Conway has been a trusted adviser and strategist who played a crucial role in my victory,” Trump said in a statement. “She is a tireless and tenacious advocate of my agenda and has amazing insights on how to effectively communicate our message. I am pleased that she will be part of my senior team in the West Wing.”
Conway said the appointment was an amazing opportunity and that a Trump presidency will bring real change to Washington and for Americans.
“I am humbled and honored to play a role in helping transform the movement he has led into a real agenda of action and results,” she stated.
Who is she?
Conway, 49, a Catholic and mother of four young children, graduated from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. and earned her law degree from George Washington University Law School.
She founded The Polling Company, inc./WomanTrend 21 years ago, a polling and research firm serving leading political figures, nonprofits and companies with offices in New York and D.C. Her clients have included Vice President-elect Mike Pence and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Earlier in her career as a pollster, Conway had compiled research on women and co-authored the 2005 book What Women Really Want: How American Women Are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class, and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live along with Democratic strategist Celinda Lake and contributor Catherine Whitney, an author. The book featured interviews, focus groups, and polls showing the insights of women.
She is married to George Conway, a partner in a New York law firm, and the family lives in Alpine, New Jersey, one of America's wealthiest zip codes.
Family is a priority
Conway has continually fielded questions about the role she might play in the Trump administration from the time he made his middle of the night acceptance speech. And while she reportedly did receive a White House job offer upon the election victory, she has consistently tempered her responses between her desire to serve the administration and her family as a priority.
In an ambush interview on the street in New York the day before her appointment was announced, Conway wouldn’t confirm specifics for entertainment and celebrity outlet TMZ, though she said, “I’m very excited, but you know, when you’re a pollster and you have 75 percent agreement on anything you’re pretty excited, but when you’re a mother you need 100 percent agreement.”
With her appointment, the family is looking for a home in Washington.
Conway also told Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network that her kids are her top priority.
“I see people on the weekend spending an awful lot of time on their golf games and that’s their right. But the kids will be with me,” she said. “We live in the same house and they come first.”
Conway had first run a pro–Ted Cruz super PAC before joining the Trump campaign, coming on as an adviser and pollster after Cruz dropped out of the presidential race.
The third Trump campaign manager in a generally tumultuous campaign, she has been called the “Trump Whisperer” for her effect in softening his presentation and managing the candidate with a motherly approach. Conway was able to navigate the path of helping the business magnate see certain things without necessarily having to change his mind about them.
Trump’s propensity for taking to Twitter with rash responses to things during the campaign had some saying he should get off of the social media platform, but instead Conway made positive suggestions.
“I would say, ‘Here are a couple of cool things we should tweet today,’” Conway has explained. “It’s like saying to someone, ‘How about having two brownies and not six?’”
After being promoted to campaign manager in mid-August, Conway met with Trump in his office at the Trump Tower, and according to a report from New York Magazine, she told him two things: that he was losing and that he was running a joyless campaign.
Conway asked Trump what would make him happier in the job and encouraged him to get back on the road and “show his humanity,” traveling with him as a moderating influence.
Later in the campaign as Trump was behind in the polls, he made the glass-half-full statement that he thought he’d win, but if he didn’t, it was OK.
Conway told him in response, “It’s not OK! You can’t say that! Your dry-cleaning bill is like the annual salaries of the people who came to your rallies, and they believe in you!”
She was the one who took the call from Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin for Clinton to concede the election, and the first person Trump thanked after his family in the course of his middle-of-the night acceptance speech.
Response to Conway’s appointment as Trump’s adviser was positive among Catholics and pro-life leaders. Both demographics were significant in the election as early on pro-lifers were unsure of Trump and Catholics have typically trended Democrat in presidential races.
Jay Richards, professor at Catholic University of America's Busch School of Business and Economics and executive editor of The Stream.org, said he was pleased to see Conway get the key role in the Trump administration and hoped she continues to provide invaluable counsel to the new president.
Richards told LifeSiteNews that Conway was an important part in Trump’s victory and his having done as well as he did in the election with Catholics.
“Kellyanne Conway’s hiring was a turning point for Trump’s presidential campaign,” Richards said.
“Kellyanne served to refine Trump’s rhetoric on key issues for Catholics, especially on abortion and religious freedom,” he continued. “The Catholic vote, which earlier in the campaign was strongly against Trump, swung in Trump’s direction on voting day.”
A crucial point in the campaign for Trump reaching Catholics was when the candidates’ conflicting stances on abortion came out in a heated exchange within minutes of the start of the third and final presidential debate.
Richards stated, “I’m convinced that a key factor for many Catholics came in the third debate, when both candidates discussed their views on abortion.”
Students for Life of America (SFLA) President Kristan Hawkins praised Conway’s pro-life and conservative credentials, saying Conway was by far the best of Trump’s staff picks and that she was thrilled by the appointment.
“Kellyanne has been a prominent fixture in the conservative and pro-life movement for years, lending her wisdom and expertise to the good causes of many candidates and organizations,” Hawkins said in a statement provided to LifeSiteNews. “She understands the value of protecting innocent life and communicating that message effectively.”
SFLA has been a longtime client of Conway’s polling company, prompting Hawkins to state further, “She has always served with integrity and honor and we are extremely proud of her incredible accomplishments, which now include being the first woman to run a successful presidential campaign all while holding the priceless positions of wife and mother.”
“President-elect Trump chose the best of the best in Kellyanne Conway,” she said, “and her guidance will no doubt prove to be invaluable as he becomes the next President of the United States.”
When Conway was named to lead the Trump campaign in August, National Right to Life’s (NRLC) Dave Andrusko wrote that it was testimony to the bias against the Trump campaign that it went virtually unnoticed she was the first female to head a major presidential campaign. Conway has performed polling work and addressed NRLC events in the past.
“But what did not go unnoticed by pro-lifers is that a movement pro-lifer, someone who has labored in the trenches for decades on behalf of unborn babies, someone who in the past has polled for National Right to Life, is now in charge of Mr. Trump’s campaign,” he said.
Conway hasn’t shied away from being a pro-life voice even in situations not directly related to pro-life advocacy.
On stage with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards at the 2012 New Yorker Festival, Conway responded to Richards’ criticism that then-GOP candidate Mitt Romney wanted to overturn Roe v Wade and ban contraception in healthcare plans and her claim that both abortion and contraception were “a basic healthcare issue.”
Conway explained from her polling results that women don’t limit their view of healthcare services to the things the abortion chain was most interested in protecting, also calling out how the abortion lobby changes terminology to suit its agenda.
“When women talk about women’s health, they really don’t restrict it to abortion and contraception,” Conway told Richards. “And part of the hijacking of a lexicon this year has been, instead of talking about abortion — then it was choice — now it’s women’s health … It’s kind of insulting women who also look at health as cancer and access to healthcare.”
When Richards attempted to interject that Planned Parenthood regards cancer issues as healthcare, Conway responded, “Well, I didn’t hear you say that yet today, and well, you’re group is called Planned Parenthood; it’s not called planning to be an octogenarian.”
“I'm thrilled that a Catholic mother of four who has defended innocent life her entire career would now be helping to shape presidential decision-making,” Deal Hudson told LifeSiteNews of the Conway appointment.
Defying the narratives
While Conway’s part in the Trump win shattered the glass ceiling for women, it’s her role as a Catholic, pro-life mother of four that feminists and some in Washington and the press have struggled to process.
As the media narrative centered on a long sought-after career goal being snatched from Hillary Clinton’s grasp, Conway continued to lead as the face of the Trump transition in the same measured and soft but steely fashion as she did throughout the campaign.
Conway has consistently stressed the importance of being a wife and mother when asked about her future with the Trump administration since the election win and at times has drawn liberal and feminist detraction.
Conway told Politico earlier this month the lesson is that “with all the opportunities out there for women, increasingly in politics and media and public policy and government affairs — all the things we do here in Washington — that we still have to make choices, there are limits.”
Conway related how in discussing her role with other senior campaign staff, the others would say, “I know you have four kids, but … ” continuing to explain that nothing coming after that “but” surpassed motherhood in importance.
She also told Fox Business’ Stuart Varney last week, “I can’t help but think that people are really judging my politics and not my motherhood.”
“I thought that women were products of their choices, and that’s what I’m trying to do here quietly and privately to find the best balance for my family,” Conway stated. “Maybe I will go into the administration because Donald Trump and my husband are very supportive of that choice as well.”
Trump and Pence are creating a family-friendly environment in the White House and the new administration, Conway continued, and Trump is respectful of the fact she is a mom of young children.
“He actually thinks it’s pretty cool,” she exuded.
After the glass ceiling was broken on election night, Conway told the New York Post that it felt good being tapped to work from Trump, and that lots of women work hard, so she also felt blessed by the appointment.
“It feels good,” she stated. “I’m not a big gender-identity person, and I wasn’t hired for my gender, but it’s … a pretty cool thing to say to my three daughters and my son. Many women work really hard and never get their shot. I feel blessed to have gotten my shot.”