At the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Kellyanne Conway, President Trump’s former campaign manager and longtime adviser, gave what may be her last speech as a White House official.
Conway used her address to defend Trump and his treatment of women. The president has a long history of making demeaning comments about women, but according to Conway, “he has elevated women to senior positions in business and in government. He confides in and consults us, respects our opinions, and insists that we are on equal footing with the men.”
The veteran Washington pollster, who helmed Trump’s 2016 election effort in its final months, was the first woman to run a winning presidential campaign.
“One hundred years ago, courageous warriors helped women secure the right to vote,” said Conway. “This has been a century worth celebrating but also a reminder that our democracy is young and fragile. A woman in a leadership role still can seem novel.”
She continued: “For many of us, ‘women’s empowerment’ is not a slogan. It comes not from strangers on social media or sanitized language in a corporate handbook. It comes from the everyday heroes who nurture us, who shape us, and who believe in us. I was raised in a household of all women. They were self-reliant and resilient. Their lives were not easy. Money was tight, but we had an abundance of what mattered most: family, faith, freedom.”
Conway, who holds the official title of counselor to the president, has been a utility player for the administration, at times acting as a surrogate, a policy adviser, and a vigorous Trump defender. She took a leadership role in the administration’s efforts to combat opioid abuse. And she often held impromptu, combative press conferences.
It was a role she was still playing Wednesday. When asked about reports that a 17-year-old who was charged with murdering a protester in Kenosha, Wis., had attended a Trump rally, Conway dismissed the connection.
“We're not responsible for the private conduct of people at our rallies any more than … all the crazy people who have been involved with the Obama/Biden campaigns or other things,” Conway told reporters.
Conway and her husband, the Republican lawyer and prominent Trump critic George Conway, announced in late August that they would be stepping away from their jobs to devote time to their family. Their announcements came after months of public criticism from one of their teenage daughters, Claudia, who often took to Twitter and TikTok to criticize Trump and her mother’s role in the administration.
The 15-year-old announced Monday that she was “taking a break” from social media “to process this recent news and stabilize my mental health.”
The Conways’ family dynamics frequently made news, particularly since George Conway made a reputation for himself as one of the most vocal detractors of his wife’s boss. Trump, unsurprisingly, shot back via Twitter several times last year, calling him a “total loser, “whack job,” and “husband from Hell.”
At the time, Kellyanne Conway defended the president’s remarks, telling Politico that Trump “left it alone for months out of respect for me. But you think he shouldn’t respond when somebody, a nonmedical professional, accuses him of having a mental disorder? You think he should just take that sitting down?”
Conway also reprimanded a Washington Examiner reporter who asked about her relationship with her husband in October. “He gets his power through me, if you haven’t noticed. Not the other way around,” she told the reporter.
As she wrapped up her speech on Wednesday, Conway said Trump “picks the toughest fights and tackles the most complex problems. He has stood by me, and he will stand up for you.”
She added: “In honor of the women who empowered me and for the future of the children we all cherish, thank you and God bless you.”
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