Donald Trump has named his former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, to serve as counselor to the president, making her the most influential woman in the White House.
In a statement on Thursday, the president-elect said 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.”
Conway, a pollster and political strategist, has been serving as a key member of Trump’s transition team since his victory on 8 November. She came on board as campaign manager in August shortly after Trump had secured the Republican nomination, and after two others – Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort – had been fired from the position.
She quickly became one of the campaign’s most important and prominent surrogates, making frequent television appearances to defend Trump’s actions and remarks, however inflammatory they became.
When a 2005 video surfaced in which Trump can be heard bragging about grabbing women’s genitals without their consent, Conway remained steadfast in her defense of the then Republican nominee.
“That’s a very unfortunate phrase, and people really should stop using it,” Conway told CNN’s Dana Bash, admonishing people for using the words “sexual assault” to describe Trump’s remarks. “He did not say the word ‘sexual assault’.”
In so doing, Conway was credited with helping soften the campaign’s image, and improving the president-elect’s standing with women, particularly suburban white women who voted for him in droves.
Trump has touted Conway as an example of his support and promotion of women. The president-elect’s victory on 8 November “also shattered the glass ceiling for women”, Trump’s statement announcing her appointment read. Conway was the first female campaign manager for either major party to win a presidential general election.