Trump aide Kellyanne Conway takes her anti-Romney crusade to TV

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

A top adviser to Donald Trump is continuing to voice her concern over the president-elect’s consideration of Mitt Romney for secretary of state.

“I’m not campaigning against anyone. I’m just a concerned citizen,” Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager and the senior adviser to his transition team, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

“I’m not trying to make the news. I’m trying to reflect the news here. And I am just astonished at the breathtaking volume and intensity of blowback that I see just as one person close to the president-elect,” she continued.

Conway’s public criticism, repeated on multiple Sunday shows and on Twitter, is a striking development as Trump looks to fill one of the most important Cabinet positions. He is also said to be seriously considering former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a staunch campaign ally, for the State Department. Other names reportedly in the mix include Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and former CIA Director David Petraeus.

Conway said that Trump loyalists feel “betrayed” by the president-elect’s consideration of Romney — who railed against Trump during the campaign — for his Cabinet.

“People feel betrayed to think Gov. Romney, who went out of his way to question the character and the intellect and the integrity of Donald Trump, now our president-elect, would be given the most significant Cabinet post of all,” Conway said on NBC.

Related: Trump team tension over Romney spills into public view

“I’m hearing from people who say, ‘Hey, my parents died penniless, but I gave $216 to Donald Trump’s campaign and I would feel betrayed,'” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

In his administration hires thus far, Trump has shown a clear preference for early campaign allies, including Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, whom he picked for attorney general. But Trump has shown a certain willingness to reach out to GOP critics like South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, his choice for U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Conway, who worked for a pro-Ted Cruz super-PAC during the Republican primary, said Romney was in a category of his own among Trump’s critics.

“There was the Never Trump movement, and then there was Mitt Romney,” she said.

Donald Trump shakes hands with Mitt Romney after their meeting at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. (Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters)

“He went out of his way to hurt Donald Trump,” Conway said on ABC’s “This Week.” “He gave two speeches that I can recall in this calendar year, and they were both about Donald Trump.”

In a scathing March speech, Romney, the Republican Party’s 2012 nominee, unloaded on Trump’s business record.

“Here’s what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” Romney said. “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.”

Romney also refused to endorse Trump in the general election. But he met with the president-elect in New Jersey last week to mend fences and reportedly discuss the possibility of joining Trump’s White House.

“I’m glad they’re talking,” Conway said on ABC. “I was there when they met. I’m glad that two job creators, who also have the very rare privilege of having represented their Republican Party as its presidential nominee, are talking.”

Conway said she has weighed in on Romney “privately” with Trump. But on Friday, Conway took to Twitter to share a Politico story about Trump supporters warning against Romney’s potential selection.

“Receiving deluge of social media & private comms re: Romney,” she tweeted, pointing out two former GOP secretaries of state who “were loyal.”

“I’m all for party unity,” Conway said on CNN. “But I’m not sure we have to pay for that with the secretary of state position.”