Kellyanne Conway, born January 20, 1967 is an American pollster, political consultant, and pundit who is currently serving as Counselor to the President in the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump. She was previously Donald Trump’s campaign manager, having been appointed in August 2016. Conway is the first woman to have run a successful U.S. presidential campaign. She has previously held roles as campaign manager and strategist in the Republican Party, and was formerly president and CEO of The Polling Company, Inc./WomanTrend.
Despite living in Donald Trump World Tower for seven years from 2001 to 2008 and having conducted private polls for Donald Trump in late 2013 when he was considering running for Governor of New York, Kellyanne Conway initially endorsed Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primaries in 2016 and chaired a pro-Cruz political action committee. After Cruz withdrew from the race, Donald Trump appointed Kellyanne Conway as a senior advisor and later campaign manager to his campaign. On December 22, 2016, Donald Trump announced that Conway would join his administration as Counselor to the President.
Since Donald Trump’s inauguration, Conway has been embroiled in a series of controversies: using the phrase “alternative facts”, making reference to a “Bowling Green massacre” that never occurred, and claiming that Michael Flynn had the full confidence of the president hours before he was dismissed. Members of Congress from both parties called for an investigation of an apparent ethics violation after she publicly endorsed commercial products associated with the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.
On November 29, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that Conway would oversee White House efforts to combat the opioid overdose epidemic.
Kellyanne Conway was born on January 20, 1967, in Atco, New Jersey, to Diane Fitzpatrick. Conway’s father, John Fitzpatrick, had Irish ancestry, while her mother is of Italian descent; John Fitzpatrick owned a small trucking company, and Diane worked at a bank. Conway was abandoned by her father, and her parents divorced when she was three. She was raised by her mother, grandmother and two unmarried aunts in the Atco section of Waterford Township, New Jersey, and graduated from St. Joseph High School in 1985, where she sang in the choir, played field hockey, worked on floats for parades, and was a cheerleader. A 1992 New Jersey Organized Crime Commission report identified Conway’s grandfather, Jimmy “The Brute” DiNatale, as a mob associate of the Philadelphia crime family; DiNatale did not reside with Conway’s grandmother, Conway, and the rest of her family. Conway’s cousin, Mark DeMarco, has stated that while in high school, Conway ordered members of the football team to stop bullying him; according to DeMarco, the bullying stopped. Her family is Roman Catholic.
On November 10, 2016, Kellyanne Conway tweeted publicly that Trump had offered her a White House job. “I can have any job I want”, she said on November 28. On November 24, Conway tweeted that she was “Receiving deluge of social media & private comms re: Romney. Some Donald Trump loyalists warn against Romney as sec of state” with a link to an article on Trump loyalists’ discontent for the 2012 nominee. Kellyanne Conway told CNN she was only tweeting what she has shared with President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence in private.
On November 28, two top sources at the Trump transition team told media outlets that Trump “was furious” at Conway for media comments she made on Trump administration cabinet appointments. The following day, however, Trump released a written statement stating that the campaign sources were wrong and that he had expressed disappointment at her critical comments on Romney. CNBC reported on November 28 that senior officials in the Trump transition “have reportedly been growing frustrated by Kellyanne Conway’s failure to become a team player.”
On December 1, Kellyanne Conway appeared with senior aides of the Trump campaign, at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, for a forum on the 2016 presidential race; the quadrennial post-presidential election forum has been held at the School of Government since 1972. Sitting across from Kellyanne Conway were senior Clinton campaign aides, including Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook. As tempers began to flare, the forum escalated into a “shouting match”; during one exchange, Clinton senior strategist Joel Benenson said “The fact of the matter is that more Americans voted for Hillary than for Trump.” Conway replied to Benenson while looking at the Trump aides: “Hey, guys, we won. You don’t have to respond. He was the better candidate. That’s why he won.”
In early December, Kellyanne Conway claimed that Hillary supporters were making death threats against her. Consequently, Trump assigned Secret Service to protect her. Conway gave up her Secret Service protection in September 2017 due to “reduction in threats.”
Kellyanne Conway views herself as a Generation X conservative. Conway is pro-life, saying in 1996: “We are pro-life. The fetus beat us. We grew up with sonograms. We know life when we see it.” She spoke at the 2017 March for Life, an annual rally protesting abortion and Roe v. Wade.
Kellyanne Conway does not consider herself a feminist “in a classical sense” because she believes the term is associated with being “anti-male” and “pro-abortion”, but rather identifies as what she calls an “individual feminist”. Conway believes that many feminists fail to accept women who are pro-life and conservative, and has stated that such feminists “‘mainly care about what happens from the waist down… It’s an insult. You know, it’s from the waist up for me — my eyes, my ears, my head, my heart, my mouth certainly.'” Kellyanne Conway has also stated that “nobody cared” about her experience with sexual harassment and her Me Too moment due to her political views.
In 2014, Kellyanne Conway coauthored a memo for the pro-amnesty group FWD.us that supported a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants living in the United States.
Kellyanne Conway is married to George T. Conway III, who is a litigation partner at the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and wrote the Supreme Court brief for Paula Jones during the Clinton impeachment in 1998. The couple have four children: twins Claudia and George IV, Charlotte, and Vanessa. They live in Alpine, New Jersey. Prior to her marriage, she dated the late Senator and 2008 Presidential candidate Fred Thompson.
Raised in a Roman Catholic family, Conway said in January 2017 that she continues to be a practicing Catholic. Reflecting her upbringing, Conway chose “Blueberry” as her Secret Service code name.
In 2005, Kellyanne Conway and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake co-authored What Women Really Want: How American Women Are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class, and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2005; ISBN 0-7432-7382-6).