To hear Kellyanne Conway tell it, the Trump campaign is doing just fine.
The growing list of women who claim Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sexually assaulted or harassed them are a non-issue. His decision to publicly say he might not accept the results of the election is no big deal. And his standing in the polls––5.9 points behind Hillary Clinton, according to the Real Clear Politics average––is nothing to worry about, because, as she says, “the race is not over.”
Really, things are going great, if only the media would stop being so hard on her candidate.
On Sunday morning, Conway, who has served as Trump’s campaign manager since August, made the rounds on the political talk shows sporting a toothy smile and red blouse. Her demeanor was as sunny as ever, and she did her best to convince viewers that despite all evidence to the contrary, Donald J. Trump will prevail.
On CNN’s State of the Union, Conway deflected from the first question, about Trump’s 15-minute tirade against his accusers distracting from the rest of his speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, by talking about his plan to “create 25 million jobs.” Conway blamed the media for not focusing on that, rather than Trump’s stated plan to sue the women accusing him of wrongdoing after the election is over.
“Every woman lied,” Trump said at the rally on Saturday. “All of these liars will be sued after the election is over,” he promised the crowd.
Asked if she knew ahead of time that Trump planned to devote so much time to campaigning against the various women who claim they were groped, kissed, or otherwise improperly treated by him, Conway said, smiling, “Well, he delivers his own speeches. This is his candidacy. He’s the guy who’s running for the White House.”
On NBC’s Meet the Press, Conway admitted “we are behind” but said it was because Clinton has “tremendous advantages,” like her surrogates, former president Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama, who she said are, “much more popular than she can hope to be.” In other words, Trump’s problems, and even potentially his eventual loss on Election Day, can be blamed on Clinton rather than his own behavior.
“Our advantage going in,” Conway said, “is that Donald Trump is just going to continue to take the case directly to the people.”
Conway then said Trump threatening to sue his accusers (which seems unlikely since it would require him to be subjected to a discovery process) is just “a way to defend himself.”
She also said that the real-estate mogul won’t sue the women immediately because, “We're busy winning the presidency. We're a little bit busy over here doing that…He's just putting people on notice.”
Recently, Conway has mystified her Twitter followers and the press by retweeting statements that were complimentary to her, but reflected negatively on Trump. When BuzzFeed reporter McKay Coppins tweeted a supporter had yelled at Trump to “stay on the issues,” Conway remarked, “That was me! I was there...” And during the presidential debate on Wednesday, Washington Post reporter Robert Costa tweeted, “‘Bad Hombres’ = Trump being Trump. Trump’s other answers = Conway-esque.” Conway retweeted the comment with an added, “--- >.”
When host Chuck Todd asked Conway about her social-media behavior, she responded, "Just on those tweets, because I actually have a sense of humor that maybe some are lacking...as does my client here, Donald Trump, [who said], 'That's all good, we're having a great time here.'"
That same morning on Fox News Sunday, when host Chris Wallace asked Conway how she planned to fix Trump’s collapse with only two weeks left before Election Day, she again stated that Trump was “taking the case directly to the voters,” something the campaign believes sets them apart from Clinton, because her events are smaller than his rallies, and she holds them with less frequency.
Asked if Trump’s plans to sue his accusers “step on his serious agenda,” Conway said, “He’s just trying to defend himself against, uh, false accusers, as he says.”
Conway is the quintessential happy warrior, a much more reliable and eloquent spokesperson for Trump than the other talking heads who work on his behalf. Still, the alternate reality she presents on television is hard to reconcile with what Trump says himself, onstage at his rallies, and the apparent negative effect that has on his precious poll numbers.
“If you see me sitting here as a campaign manager, then that's where my heart and my head are,” Conway assured Wallace.