As part of the Trump campaign’s latest shake-up, which brought in Breitbart’s Steve Bannon as chief executive, Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway was named campaign manager. During the Republican National Convention, Conway spoke on a panel at an event organized by the American Conservative Union; her remarks there give some indication of how she views Trump and this year’s campaign. Of course, her comments were made before Trump’s recent drop in the polls.
Conway was introduced as a “pollstress” who serves on ACU’s board and as a senior adviser to Mike Pence, and she reminded people that she had also run a pro-Ted Cruz super PAC.
Conway said Obama’s rising approval rating is “not relevant” to the campaign, because his ratings on specific issues like national security and the economy were under 50 percent. “Cool is not transferable,” she said. Obama does not, she said, have a mandate from the American people for his “decidedly left-of-center agenda.” Neither, she said, does Clinton. She said most Americans are opposed to Obamacare and that as more problems emerge in the state exchanges, Republicans should be going after it hard.
Conway said there is little ideological diversity within the Democratic party and that has made its leaders disconnected from average Americans:
Where are the boll weevil Democrats? Where are the blue dog Democrats? Where are the pro-life Democrats? Where are the pro-Second-Amendment Democrats? They are gone, particularly at the federal level…When you don’t have that in your membership, in your elected officials, particularly at the federal level, you forget that the country doesn’t agree with you. And I think that’s what’s happened to the modern Democratic Party. As it has shifted leftward, completely unrecognizable from Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party … they believe they’ve shifted in response to the country, but that’s not true.
Conway said that while Clinton has built a traditional campaign, Trump built a movement and has done a good job at making people feel like they are part of it. People believe, she said, that he’s making a sacrifice to make this run. She believed that Trump family operations like The Apprentice reality TV show and Ivanka’s clothing line have helped him tap in the cultural zeitgeist. And she praised his use of direct language, like complaining during the primary of a “rigged, corrupt system” that was robbing people of their votes.
Conway said that Trump is the first national politician in a long time to talk to people who are hurting economically. The Republican Party she said, had become “dangerously close to becoming the party of the elites,” but Trump has moved it to becoming “the party of the worker.”
“We need to be the party of the job holders,” she said, not just the wealthy job creators.
Conway said that a year or a year and a half earlier, she had said in response to a question that her major criterion for the GOP candidate was that he be “unapologetically, unflinchingly unafraid” of the Clintons and their networks—“all the king’s horses, all the king’s men, all their money, all their stock, all their lies, all their corruption, all their distortions, all their name-calling.” Trump is not afraid of them, she said, and voters find him refreshing. And they like that he “occupies rented space in Hillary Clinton’s head.”