Just four days after assuming the role of campaign manager for Donald Trump’s presidential bid, pollster Kellyanne Conway went on today’s talk shows to defend Trump for his decision to not release his federal income tax returns. She also sought to defend her previous criticisms of Trump. During the primary season, Conway worked on Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Conway said “Now that I am on the inside, I know something I didn’t know then, which is he is under audit and what that means.” She added, “He has said clearly, and I back him up completely, that when the audit is completed he’ll release the tax returns.” Later, she told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week,” “I’ve learned since being on the inside that this audit is a serious matter.”
Earlier this year, while still working for a super-PAC promoting Cruz, Conway charged that Trump had built “his businesses on the backs of little guys” and said his tax returns should “be transparent.” Conway also called Trump’s rhetoric for Republican rivals such as Cruz, “vulgar.”
“Do I want somebody who hurls personal insults,” she asked on CNN, “or who goes and talks about philosophical differences?”
Conway was promoted in a recent switch-up in the Trump campaign. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is embroiled in reports that he received millions of dollars in fees from a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine back in 2012, has resigned. Conway was joined by media executive and political organizer Stephen Bannon, who is working as campaign chief executive. In the week before the change, Trump fell behind Hillary Clinton by 7 points, while Trump refuses to moderate his rhetoric to satisfy his critics. “Everyone talks about, ‘Oh, you’ve got to pivot,’” Trump said last week. “I don’t want to pivot. I don’t want to change. You have to be you. If you start pivoting, you’re not being honest with people.”
Conway said today that Trump’s tone is different now, and that he has already pivoted “on substance.” She said, “He doesn’t hurl personal insults,” adding, “What he’s doing is he’s challenging the Democratic Party. He’s challenging Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s legacy.”
When she was asked whether the so-called pivot means a reversal on his proposal to deport illegal aliens, Conway said, “To be determined.”
Univision and Buzzfeed wrote stories that suggested that Trump is moderating his tone about deportation and that he will soon unveil a plan to legalize illegal aliens. However, Helen Aguirre-Ferré of the Republican National Committee’s Hispanic outreach, said “Mr. Trump did not say he was in favor of legalization.” According to Breitbart News, anyone who heard Trump at a meeting with the National Hispanic Advisory Council yesterday and believes Trump has changed his mind is mistaken.
As for black voters, Trump said last week in Wisconsin: “You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. What the hell do you have to lose?”
Responding to those remarks, Conway said, “Those comments are for all Americans,” Conway said on ABC’s “This Week,” “I live in a white community. I’m white. I was very moved by his comments. In other words, he is trying to tell Americans that we can do better. And the thing that he said that I think got a great deal of resonance is that maybe Hillary Clinton looks at you as voters, takes you for granted. I look at you as people.”