By Philip Rucker
Kellyanne Conway, who served as Donald Trump’s campaign manager and as a senior adviser to the president-elect’s transition team, will join the White House as counselor to the president, Trump announced Thursday morning.
Conway, who has publicly grappled with whether to join the administration or to lead an outside political group to help Trump, will be part of the senior leadership team in the West Wing with responsibility for messaging and other priorities.
“Kellyanne Conway has been a trusted advisor and strategist who played a crucial role in my victory,” Trump said in a statement. “She is a tireless and tenacious advocate of my agenda and has amazing insights on how to effectively communicate our message. I am pleased that she will be part of my senior team in the West Wing.”
Conway, a veteran pollster and political strategist, became the first woman in history to manage a winning presidential campaign. The news release from Trump’s transition team stated that, because of Conway’s leadership, Trump’s victory “shattered the glass ceiling for women.”
Conway joined Trump’s campaign during the general election and helped shape Trump’s message and devise his strategy to capture an electoral college majority. Her frequent appearances on television advocating for Trump made her a household name in politics - and a regular character on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”
For weeks now, Conway has publicly weighed whether to join the White House. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children and has spoken about the toll a move to Washington and a high-pressure White House job could take on her family. Conway said at a Women Rule Summit in Washington last month that it would be a “bad idea, bad idea, bad idea, bad idea for mom going inside.”
But Trump wanted Conway at his side when he takes office. He initially asked her to serve as White House press secretary - which is the most public-facing role in the administration - because of her skill at promoting and defending him, even when combating journalists. But they settled on a counselor role for Conway, which will give her a broad perch from which to advise him on all matters and promote the administration’s agenda.
“I want to thank the president-elect for this amazing opportunity,” Conway said in a statement. “A Trump presidency will bring real change to Washington and to Americans across this great nation. I am humbled and honored to play a role in helping transform the movement he has led into a real agenda of action and results.”
For Conway, a move to Washington is a homecoming of sorts. She graduated from Trinity College magna cum laude and holds a law degree with honors from George Washington University Law School.
Conway has worked with Vice President-elect Mike Pence for years and has relationships with a number of prominent Republican officeholders and donors. She founded and owns The Polling Company, Inc./WomanTrend, a polling and research firm that for two decades has advised politicians, companies and nonprofit organizations.