Kellyanne Conway became a household name seemingly overnight, when she began working as Donald Trump’s campaign manager. The question is “why?” Why would a seemingly small-time pollster be picked by Donald Trump to help him run for the Presidency of the United States? Let’s start from the beginning.
In 1995 she began her political career by joining the Republican polling group known as the “Wirthlin Group.” From there she moved to “Luntz Research Companies”, before establishing her own polling company aptly named “the Polling Company” (NewsMax). Her company, and the ones she worked for beforehand, was known to conduct polls for various conservative groups with a focus on helping the GOP appeal to women.
She also began the TV circuit in the 1990’s with other young women such as Anne Coulter, Barbara Olsen, and Laura Ingraham who were major voice pieces for women who supported conservative values and a pro-life stance. She appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, NY1, and the Fox News Channel to name a few (The Contrary). She specifically worked to talk about the affair of then-sitting President Bill Clinton what ended up being an impeachment. Kellyanne made a name for herself as someone who was fact-driven and not emotionally charged, but that was something that did not resonate greatly with her conservative viewers (New Yorker).
Conway started to work with a group called “The Federation for American Immigration Reform,” or FAIR. Their President, Dan Stein, stated that “FAIR began working with Kellyanne Conway as far back as 1996, and we have used her for polling virtually every year since then.”
FAIR has been criticized by the Poverty Law Centre, a non-profit civil rights organization, as “an anti-immigrant hate group.” The President of FAIR himself who went on record saying, “Many [immigrants] hate America, hate everything that the United States stands for. Talk to some of these Central Americans” (SPLCenter.com).
In 2001 she moved into Trump World Tower, where she was introduced to Trump and eventually served on the condo board, stating that he was “very involved in his condos” (Fox News). This was the start of Conway’s relationship with Donald Trump.
During the 2000’s Conway was seen regularly around network news TV featured as a conservative commentator, working more closely with conservative-value politicians, and even co-authored a book called “What Women Really Want: How American Women Are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class, and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live” (Washington Post).
In 2012 Newt Gingrich observed that he had seen Conway on a plane with Trump suggesting that they had continued to work together, and said that “they have very good chemistry.” Gingrich also said that she wasn’t wasting time informing him on any of the issues because “[Trump] actually thinks he knows something” (Washington Post)
Later in 2013, after Conway had moved to New Jersey, Trump was considering running for the mayor of New York. At that time Kellyanne Conway offered to and conducted a poll for him about the possibility of success becoming the mayor of New York. “NY loves its celebrity politicians and families,” and “[Trump] he has the money and moxie to compete if he chooses to enter the race,” was what she told Donald the report she ran told him.
The part that Conway’s report that she did not Share with Trump was that he was projected to lose to Andrew Cuomo by thirty-five points. After finding out about this discrepancy one of Trump advisors is quoted as saying about Conway, “She produces an analysis that buries every terrible number and highlights every positive number. It’s just an enormous crock of shit.”
Soon afterwards Trump decided that he should just forget about running for the Mayor of New York and instead run for President. When Conway was talking about the situation in 2013 she stated that one of Trump’s advisors said to Donald, “’if you’re going to run for office, why not start with President of the United States?’ And, you know, it’s a fair question, and he ultimately decided that” (New Yorker).
In 2015 Conway’s firm was offered a business opportunity to create a poll for the “Center for Security Policy,” which was run by Frank Gaffney. The Poverty Law Centre also declared Gaffney to be, “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobics” (BBC). Frank Gaffney is a self-identified white nationalist supporter, Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theorist, and Breitbart writer who has stated Obama is “still” a Muslim. He has gone as far as to say the Missile Defense Agency logo was redesigned to combine the Islamic crescent and Obama’s logo. Recently he was banned by his own party from the Conservative Political Action Conference once he had started claiming the conservative symposium had been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood (The Intercept).
Frank Gaffney hired Kellyanne Conway’s firm to create the poll in order to show the current Islamic-American beliefs to benefit his own “studies.” That poll showed that 25% of those surveyed agreed violence against Americans is justified as global jihad, and that 51% said that they should be able to be governed by Sharia law if they so desire. This was posted on their website to support the islamophobia material on the website and remains there today (CenterForSecurityPolicy.org).
The report, however, did not show any scientific basis on the information that they gathered and there was no accuracy measurement or limitations given in the study. Donald Trump still cited this poll in a December, 2015 speech in New York for reasons why he would shut down Muslim immigration immediately upon election (DonaldJTrump.com). It is still presently listed it on his website as a reason for immigration reform, where it still remains today.
Ironically this was well before Conway and trump were working together, and in a move to keep their company from being looked at negatively, Conway’s firm rejected the President’s conclusion and stated: “As this poll was conducted among an online group of opt-in respondents, we did not publish a margin of error or otherwise advise our client that the data were statistically representative of the entire U.S. Muslim population. In addition, Mr. Trump’s premise and policy proposal has no backing in the survey” (NYMag.com).
Conway started her work with varying levels of government officials such as Jack Kemp, Fred Thompson, Dan Quayle, Newt Gingrich, and the now-sitting Vice President Mike Pence when he was still a Senator. As the 2016 Presidential election rolled around she originally endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz. While supporting Cruz she was quoted as saying Trump was an extremist, not a conservative, and “a man who seems to be offending his way to the nomination” (RollCall.com).
She also chaired an action committee to support Ted Cruz which was funded by Robert Mercer, a hedge-fund tycoon. This action committee put out 3 attack ads on Donald Trump which according to Conway was part of a $2.5 million effort in Iowa and South Carolina. Following Cruz bowing out of the Presidential race, Kellyanne followed and left the action committee.
In August of 2016, Trump was shown in a CNN poll that he had a 70% disapproval rating with women. He needed someone to help get him back in favor with Republican women. Conway said at the time while she was studying Trump’s strengths and weaknesses with women that, “for every women who is attracted to Trump as the non-political, non-traditional outsider, there are two or three women who say they don’t like bullies,” which was becoming a growing problem for Trump’s Presidential bid (RollCall.com).
Advisor to Donald Trump
On July 1st Donald Trump announced that he had hired Kellyanne Conway without any mention of her past with Cruz or their past together. She would be put on as a senior advisor help him with polling with female voters, much like she had done with Ted Cruz (Yahoo Politics). Soon after Trump promoted her into the campaign’s third campaign manager on August 19th (New Yorker), and upon election was offered a White House job on November 10th, 2016 (Twitter).
Since taking her Whitehouse position Kellyanne Conway has been seen frequently representing the White House on television for interviews. She has had various issues arise since being named a White House aide. They include: using the phrase “alternative facts” to defend a falsehood by Trump’s press secretary, a fake massacre, being banned by a national news show for being “out of the loop,” and also at one point illegally asking to the public to “Go buy Ivanka’s (Trump’s daughter’s) stuff,” in regards to a question about if the President was misusing the Presidency for financial gain (Fox News).
Donald Trump needed someone that could help him with his campaign and help him appeal to women, and continues to need that support and appeal to women. Kellyanne Conway provides him with a powerful female figure within his organization. If Kellyanne would not stayed with trump after Trump he was caught making the sexist comments “…when you’re a star, [women] let you do it,” and that he “can grab them by the pussy,” Trump may very well have lost the election (Washington Post). However, Conway stuck by his side even though such an act was seen as so egregious by someone like herself.
Why would Conway who is a women’s advocate within the GOP, a Cruz supporter, and staunch Trump aggressor stay with a candidate who never have had such major issues as Trump has had? Probably the same reason that Donald Trump hired her: They both need one another and have the same core belief system.
The reality is Conway needs Trump to be elevated to the office of the Presidency as a White House advisor and someone who is able to speak for the President. Without him she is back to just being another interviewee on political television. Trump needs her to help him appeal to women, spin what he says to save face, and put out fires without admitting fault.
The one thing that may outweigh everything is that they both share the same core values. One which cannot be ignored is their relationships with anti-immigration, anti-Islam groups, such as: FAIR, SPL, Breitbart, and others.
Donald trump said it best when promoting Kellyanne Conway when he said: “She is a tireless and tenacious advocate of my agenda.” Now we know what that agenda is.