USA Politics First Look

Kellyanne Conway will serve as counselor to the president in Trump’s administration

As President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway managed to subdue the brazen candidate. Can her influence have the same effect in the West Wing?

Kellyanne Conway at a forum at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass. on Dec. 1.
Charles Krupa/AP/File | Caption

President-elect Donald Trump has selected his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway to serve as counselor to the president, a role that will likely have her closely assisting the administration with day-to-day operations.

In a statement Thursday morning, Mr. Trump noted that Ms. Conway "played a crucial role in my victory."

"She is a tireless and tenacious advocate of my agenda and has amazing insights on how to effectively communicate our message," he added. "I am pleased that she will be part of my senior team in the West Wing."

Conway was Trump’s third and final campaign manager, but did not have a permanent role in the administration until now. Previously, Trump said former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon would hold the position in addition to serving as his chief strategist under the administration.

Created as a cabinet-rank position in the Nixon administration, the counselor to the president helps manage the day-to-day operations of the White House staff. The position in President Obama's White House is currently vacant; the last counselor was John Podesta, who left in early 2015 to manage Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

"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," Conway said in a statement Thursday.

Conway took over Trump’s floundering campaign in August and drove him to a surprise victory just three months later. She emphasized the importance of staying on message and managed to slightly subdue the unconventional candidate’s bold personality.

“I think Donald Trump is at his best when he sticks to the issues. It's how he started, he first propelled his candidacy, and it's how he beats Hillary Clinton,” Conway told Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” in October. “The issues that actually benefits the Trump/Pence ticket in this way. People believe that radical Islamic terrorism has not been defeated. They don't much like ObamaCare, they think it's been a bad deal for many Americans.”

Those who have worried about Trump’s personal attacks and affinity for Twitter hope that Conway will continue to keep the president-elect focused on his policies and messaging, turning the unconventional and uncensored candidate into one with more traditional presidential qualities.  

Some have hailed Conway as a powerful female icon, as she became the first woman to manage a presidential campaign to victory. But others worry that her stance on working mothers doesn’t bode well for establishing an administration that would cater to equal pay or paid family leave.

Speaking earlier this month Politico’s Women Rule event, Conway said taking a White House job would be a “bad idea,” as she has four children under the age of 13.

When a man asked her if she planned to take a job in Trump’s administration, she said, “I did politely mention to them that the question isn’t, ‘Would you take the job?’ … but ‘Would you want your wife to?’ And you really see their entire visage change. It’s like, oh, no, they wouldn’t want their wife to take that job.”

Conway’s new position makes her the highest-ranking woman in Trump’s administration, where she will work alongside Mr. Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus.

This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press.