Kellyanne Conway to join the Trump White House as counselor to the president
Kellyanne Conway, the Republican pollster and strategist who helped steady Donald Trump’s insurgent bid for the presidency, will officially join his White House team, serving as counselor to the incoming president.
The move, announced by transition team early Thursday, ends weeks of intrigue about what Conway’s role might be in a Trump administration. The longtime strategist, who previously worked for Trump’s primary rival Ted Cruz and has advised other high profile Republicans including Newt Gingrich and Mike Pence, joined the campaign over the summer and was eventually tapped as his campaign manager in August during a particularly rocky period for the candidate, when even close allies believed Trump was on the path to defeat.
Internally, Conway became known as the “Trump whisperer,” praised by both staff and members of the Trump family for her ability to keep the meandering and unpredictable candidate somewhat on message. She was also credited with crafting a more focused message for the campaign, smoothing over Trump’s more controversial statements and positions to help him make inroads with women and other swing voters.
In Conway, Trump gained a loyal messenger who became his primary defender on cable television, a medium he monitors obsessively, during the final months of the campaign. Those television appearances, along with her close relationship with his oldest children — Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric — helped elevate Conway, who was among the few members of the Trump team who gave unvarnished political advice to the candidate and to whom he seemed to truly listen.
“She is a tireless and tenacious advocate of my agenda and has amazing insights on how to effectively communicate our message,” Trump said in a written statement announcing Conway’s new role.
The appointment appears to make Conway the highest-ranking female staffer in Trump White House. It was not immediately clear where the role fits into the staff hierarchy. Last month, Trump tapped Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, as his chief of staff. He also appointed Stephen Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News who served as his campaign’s chief executive, as his chief strategist.
Publicly, Conway had wavered on whether she would join Trump’s White House team. She told reporters that she had passed on the job of press secretary, concerned about the long hours and its impact on her ability to raise her four young children. As of last week, she had hinted she might join a political operation being assembled by Trump alumni to help press his agenda in Washington.
Speaking on CNN shortly after the announcement Thursday morning, Conway said her role would entail both communication and strategy but that the specifics were still being hammered out.
“I am very pleased and very honored to take on this role,” Conway said, adding that she was happy to join Bannon and other colleagues to continue the “cohesive team” that had helped lead Trump to victory in November.