Stephanie GRIFFITH –
More than just a trusted adviser, Kellyanne Conway earned the nickname “Trump Whisperer” on the US presidential campaign trail for an uncanny ability to soothe and soften the brash real estate magnate.
Conway on Thursday was rewarded for her gifts — and her political acumen as driver of Donald Trump’s successful campaign strategy — with an influential White House post as counsellor to the president-elect.
The news cements a place after Trump’s inauguration next month for the wily veteran strategist, who will be working in a White House led for the first time by someone who has never before held elective office.
Conway, 49, has been arguably Trump’s most effective surrogate, softening the Republican billionaire’s prickly edges and helping him appear more reasonable and relatable. For months she was his indefatigable spokeswoman and careful manager, an apologist for his worst excesses, emphasising the good, deflecting the bad by pivoting to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses, and handling his ego with dexterity.
The ever smiling pollster, Republican strategist and mother of four was the first woman to manage a successful US presidential campaign, and now becomes one of the most influential women in Trump’s administration.
Conway had an unusually high media profile as the public face of Trump’s campaign, and has been on the receiving end of regular lampooning from popular late-night comedy show “Saturday Night Live” — as has her boss. For Gabriel Kahn, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Conway’s gender helped make her indispensable to Trump.
As the real estate mogul came under fire for vulgar remarks about groping women and stood accused of sexual misconduct by a dozen women, she made his words “seem not so awful, simply because she was an attractive, articulate and blond white woman,” Kahn said.
Conway never indulged in the vicious mudslinging that characterised so much of the election, earning the trust of the Trump children and grudging respect from her detractors. The New Jersey native studied political science, later getting a law degree from George Washington University. She founded her own polling company in 1995, and has worked with a number of Republican heavy hitters over the years.
She outlived the two campaign managers who preceded her running Trump’s campaign — Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort — both of whom showed less deftness in their campaign strategy, and considerably less finesse handling their boss. Married to George Conway, a partner in a law firm, the couple and their children live in a $6-million mansion in Alpine, New Jersey, one of America’s wealthiest zip codes. — AFP
Stephanie GRIFFITH –