Kellyanne Conway is the EF Hutton of American conservative politics.
Who could ever forget the Wall Street brokerage firm’s old commercials where a narrator voice boasted, “When EF Hutton talks, people listen,” whereby a gathering of strangers in a public place would respond to hearing the words “EF Hutton” by stopping whatever conversations they were having to eavesdrop on the speaker’s discussion? Did the concept draw clients to the famous stock trading firm? Well, if you recall the TV spot all these years later, you might still think “EF Hutton” (the firm was revived in 2021 as the new name for Kingswood Capital Markets) when you’ve got some spare change jingling around in your bank account.
Or maybe not. But in 2024 campaign lexicon, a more appropriate saying could be, “When Kellyanne Conway talks, Donald Trump should listen.” The longtime conservative campaign consultant, political talking-head and one of the key minds behind Trump’s winning 2016 presidential candidacy has been a lot more visible lately (in all fairness, she did launch a book last month and has been promoting it – but she still dishes on Trump’s future at every opportunity).
You may recall how Conway, who served in the Trump White House for most of his first term, decided to leave in 2020 to concentrate on her family life and take a break from the oppressive media glare that always surrounded her. “More mama and less drama” she said at the time in her characteristic folksy style. There was much speculation that the tension between herself and her (apologies for lack of a better way to phrase it) jackass Never-Trump husband George finally got the best of the wise soul, causing her to bow out.
For what it’s worth, George Conway hasn’t let up on his criticism of her former boss and Trump himself snipes back whenever the occasion arises, proving that some things never change in the ever-evolving world of Washington politics, especially in the age of social media.
But it’s a good thing for conservatives that Kellyanne is making a comeback so soon after taking a respite from the daily back-and-forth of the establishment media’s relentless get-Trump mission. In the process, Conway has some salient advice for the former president should he decide, as expected, to announce he’s making another run in 2024.
“’There’s nobody who’s profited more handsomely from Donald Trump’s presidency than Jared Kushner,’ Mrs. Conway said … in an online interview with Washington Times Opinion Editor Charles Hurt and Commentary Editor Kelly Sadler. ‘If you believe the news reports … he’s gotten billions of dollars for his [investment] fund.’…
“In the interview, Mrs. Conway said Mr. Trump will be ‘unstoppable’ in a 2024 bid for the White House if he campaigns on his winning themes of 2016 instead of on grievance over his loss to President Biden. She said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seen as the biggest threat to Mr. Trump’s Republican Party nomination in 2024, hasn’t been tested in the national spotlight…
“’If President Trump wants to run in 2024, and he does … he should just look forward and project a vision forward, go to the future and recognize that every great presidential candidate, including him in 2016, has that vision of looking forward and reflects the people’s grievances, not his own grievances, the people’s grievances — their economic, their anxiety and uncertainty, their feeling of … uncertainty and chaos and crisis everywhere we look, and reflect to them that he is the guy who will come and mitigate if not eliminate all of that,’ she said.”
No one can say for sure what helped Kellyanne Conway become so wise to the demands of the conservative voter, but she’s sure got a knack for hitting the proverbial nail on the head. To this day, Trump fans, of which I am one, still credit 2016 Trump campaign gurus Conway and Steve Bannon for getting his listing ship righted again in time for the crucial fall push towards the general election.
Trump had the campaign messaging down but got himself wrapped up in too many non-related controversies such as the one involving Gold Star parents Khizr Khan and his wife who had objected to Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration from war torn countries in early August of 2016.
Up until that time, Trump’s campaign had been uneven at best, first under the direction of fledgling Corey Lewandowski and then Republican establishmentarian Paul Manafort, neither of whom was particularly adept at managing Trump’s multitude of public relations snafus and the media’s sensationalism of the candidate’s personal life. Lewandowski had never been in charge of a campaign of this magnitude and Manafort, well, he wasn’t ethically the correct man for the job.
Lewandowski in particular had been involved in several altercations where he either pushed (or yanked) someone or said something damaging about the candidate. It reached a point where Lewandowski was becoming a campaign liability all to himself and had to be replaced. I have a friend who once worked with the man and said he couldn’t be trusted to run a vacuum cleaner much less a presidential effort.
Trump doubters and haters would probably suggest that by talking with the media a lot lately Conway is simply interviewing via proxy for her old campaign manager job back, which is most likely false. Here’s thinking if Conway wanted back in Trump’s orbit, all she would need to do is say so. Boyer’s article indicated the two former colleagues still talk frequently and it’s probably because whatever Kellyanne advises is the best course of action for the 45th president.
She also recently suggested if Trump decides not to run for the 2024 nomination that he should support his vice president, Mike Pence in his place. I don’t see it happening, but her reasoning for the idea was sound. As far as Conway’s public spat concerning Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner goes, she’s right on the money again. Looking back, many, many conservatives questioned the wisdom of bringing daughter Ivanka and her husband into the White House to serve as advisors to the new outsider president. Both were thought to be political liberals who would feed poor counsel to the man who’d run his campaign promising to drain the swamp and Make America Great Again.
By all accounts, Kushner remained as a close confidante of the president throughout his four years at the helm. Only insiders would know for sure whether Kushner was partially responsible for Trump’s failure to catch on with the public despite his very visible accomplishments. The last thing the president needed was a related by marriage yes-man who couldn’t relate to the MAGA base.
But assuming Trump does plan to run again, he should take Kellyanne’s advice to heart and leave Kushner and Ivanka in New York or wherever they live now. The job of steering the country back on course has become monumentally larger than it was even after Barack Obama’s disastrous eight years. Joe Biden has divided the country with his “woke” anti-traditional value agenda and wrecked the strong economy that Trump’s policies helped build.
There will be quite the mess to cleanup in 2025, the bright side being that Trump will have more than enough substance to talk about at his campaign rallies. As many have advocated, Trump should stop referring to the 2020 result once he announces his comeback. The mere mention of the post-election fiasco will cause many to tune-out and switch the channel. Or it might even drive some towards a third-party candidate, which surveys show some citizens are considering.
Not nearly so fortuitous were Conway’s comments on Ron DeSantis. “He [DeSantis] obviously is highly favored by donors and grassroots. But I will say this: I love the donors. They’re very successful people in life. They’re often wrong about who’s next. People say, ‘I want DeSantis,’ and they don’t know him that well. And they have to realize that whether it’s DeSantis or Joe Blow or Donald Trump or Charlie Hurt, if you have an ‘R’ after your name, they’re coming for you. So what everybody thinks is unconquerable and indomitable and electable, the media and the hard left, they will tear that person apart. And we don’t know what people are made of until they’re put into that arena.”
Kellyanne’s observation – at least the “don’t know what people are made of” part -- is somewhat true, but I would argue that DeSantis has been a national political figure for at least a couple years (since he took the lead of the common sense side during the COVID lockdown period) now and has endured a wave of criticism from liberals who view the Florida governor – and his conservative policies – as a threat to their being.
And while DeSantis has yet to be fully publicly vetted on the level of a presidential candidate, he’s been around in politics long enough that Democrats would have already done major opposition research into his background for any tiny flaw that might turn up. There’s also the fact that the Florida governor is only 43-years old. Trump was practically twice that age when he ran and had been a tabloid celebrity the whole time.
I think DeSantis is ready for the challenge, but is most likely waiting to see what Trump does. Sources say Trump is inching closer to confirming that he’s running again, which is scaring the Republican establishment to death.
Kellyanne Conway is right – no matter who the Republican 2024 nominee is, he or she will face a whirlwind of opposition from the Democrats and the establishment media. Joe Biden and company are well on their way to transforming America into something good citizens no longer recognize. The damage won’t be easily undone. The GOP needs wise experts like Conway to light the way.
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