On December 22nd, three days after the electoral college officially voted in President-elect Trump as the 45th President of the United States, Trump named his 2016 campaign manager Kellyanne Conway as the official counselor to the President. The 49-year-old New Jersey native is the first female campaign manager to run a winning campaign for POTUS, and will serve as the first female counselor in United States history. Previously this year President-elect Trump announced that former Breitbart president Steve Bannon would serve as “senior counselor” and “chief strategist” in his cabinet. It is unclear at time of publication if both will be serving as counselors, or how exactly the two are planning to work together.
The role of Counselor to the President was created in 1969 under the Nixon administration. Arthur Burns, an American economist, held the newly-created position at cabinet rank, which was meant as a placeholder until Burns could be appointed as Chair of the Federal Reserve. Counselors have held many duties over the years. Edwin Meese, who held the position during the first term of President Reagan’s time in office, was seen as one of Reagan’s most trusted advisors. During the Clinton administration the counselors were “communication baed” meaning they handled press releases and speech writing. President Obama initially abolished the position and dolled out the various responsibilities to three advisors, until 2011 when he named Pete Rouse his first Counselor. Rouse maintained the day-to-day responsibilities in the White House as well as assisted both the POTUS and his Chief of Staff.
While it isn’t exactly clear what Conway’s job will be in the White House, what is clear is where she aligns herself with the issues so important to the people of the United States today.
Trump has infamously spoken about building a “wall” barricading Mexico from the US, aims to immediately deport 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants in American, and wants to implement an “extreme” vetting process for individuals coming into the country from specific (read: Muslim) countries.
Conway, on the other hand, actually co-authored a 2014 polling memo detailing a 13 year plan for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States to obtain citizenship. According to the memo, which was signed not only by Conway and 15 other GOP pollsters, “most Americans don’t believe deportation is a viable policy” and that there is an “overwhelming consensus” for “some kind of legalization” for people currently living in the United States illegally.
Since coming onto the Trump Team in August, Conway has maintained that Trump is serious about his wall (and having Mexico pay for it) and his extreme immigration reform.
Trump is Pro-Life, saying in an interview that he will sign a bill to completely defund Planned Parenthood due to their abortion work.
“I am for defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they are involved with abortion.”
Conway is adamantly Pro-Life, once stating,
“We’re pro-life. The fetus beat us. We grew up with sonograms. We know life when we see it.”
Same-Sex Marriage and LGBT Rights
Trump has stated that he’s a “traditional guy” and does not support same-sex marriages or civil unions between LGBT+ couples. He has said that he would consider appointing Supreme Court judges who would overturn the same-sex marriage ruling from 2015.
Kellyanne, raised Catholic, does not support same-sex marriage.
In 2005 after an episode of PBS’s Postcards from Buster depicted a lesbian couple, Conway asserted that the issue of same-sex marriage, LGBT representation, and equality is not “right versus left but right versus wrong.”
During his 2016 campaign, the public erupted when a clip of Trump was leaked where he talked openly about acts that would imply he would sexually assault women. Saying things like:
- “I did try and fuck her. She was married.”
- “Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
- “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Trump has a long history of being accused of assaulting and acting degrading towards women, from kissing pageant contestants without their consent to a case in which he was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1994. The lawsuit was dropped this year.
Kellyanne Conway is no stranger to making controversial comments about women herself.
When the “locker room talk scandal” was making headlines Conway said when asked if Trump’s comments were implying sexual assault that,
“That’s a very unfortunate phrase and people should really stop using that because I know him better and I know better.”
During a 2013 panel Conway said the following about rape,
“If we were physiologically — not mentally, emotionally, professionally — equal to men, if we were physiologically as strong as men, rape would not exist. You would be able to defend yourself and fight him off.”
Conway has never clarified her comments when asked.
During his acceptance speech in November, Trump promised “to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals.” How he plans for formally reform education is still not completely clear. Trump has stated plans to reform student loans in the country by,
- Consolidating all current repayment plans into a single Income-Based Repayment program (IBR) where students pay 12.5% of their income toward their loans each month and receive total loan forgiveness after 15 years
- Significantly scaling back funding for the DOE.
Trump’s education reform seems slightly contradictory. On one hand, he says he wants to strip down the Department of Education and remove the federal government from student loans, but then he offered up an arguably liberal student loan forgiveness plan.
A mother of four, education is something that is clearly very important to Conway. She has spoken out in favor of Charter Schools, as well as scrapping Common Core from the system. Trump has also spoken in favor of removing Common Core from the education system, but it’s unclear how a President would/could actually do that.
It also appears Kellyanne agrees with Trump that too much political correctness on college campuses needs to stop, calling students who were given the option to not attend classes at Columbia post-election “precious snowflakes” and tweeting the following USA Today article. But again, it’s unclear how a President would actually be able to enforce anything surrounding PC culture in high education today.
In his First 100 Days plan, Trump has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare), in favor of privatized health insurance and Health Savings Accounts. Experts have said that the act repealing something with that magnitude would actually take far longer, but that it’s not impossible. States that won by Trump in the Presidential election have the highest enrollment in Obamacare.
Kellyanne Conway has also been vocal in her criticism of Obama, and Obamacare.
On November 13th while on Fox News Conways reported,
“[Trump] has talked about convening a special session on January 20 after he is sworn in as President of the United States to do this very thing, to repeal and replace Obamacare. It would be a pretty remarkable move.”
Donald J. Trump has consistently been in the media for his candor on popular social media platform, Twitter. He’s taken to the site to comment on SNL, the Russian hacking scandal, calling out performers in the Broadway musical Hamilton for addressing Mike Pence, and inaccurately stating that he won the popular vote of the election without an unproven amount of millions of illegal votes.
Trump has consistently been dragged in the media for continuing to use Twitter in this manner as the President-elect, instead of holding press conferences or doing formal interviews.
Despite being someone who once said Trump was “a man who seems to be offending his way to the nomination,” Conway does not seem to have a problem with the President-elect’s bizarrely candid behavior.
“[Social media is] a great way” to “cut through the noise or silence”
“Who is to say that he can’t do that, make a comment, spend five minutes on a tweet and making a comment and still be president-elect?”
When asked if Trump would have a staffer or someone to ensure that anything he tweets is 100% accurate, Conway refused to comment.
President-elect Trump will be sworn into office on January 20th.