Mar 28, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Kellyanne Conway considers return to Trumpworld

Photo illustration of a trio of Kellyanne Conway photos lined up and becoming more clear from left to right.

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photos: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images.

Kellyanne Conway, the former Trump campaign manager-turned-spokesperson who made the phrase "alternative facts" famous, is considering a return to Trumpworld.

Driving the news: Conway is weighing an offer to join Trump's 2024 team, according to a person familiar with her thinking who wouldn't specify what that role would be or who made the offer.

  • Senior Trump advisers tell Axios no offer is on the table, however.
  • What is clear is that Conway has been inserting herself into several hot policy debates in what many Republicans — with mixed feelings — see as an effort to make herself relevant again, and show she's willing to go to bat for the former president.
  • "I've been doing the last few years what I've been doing the last few decades," Conway told Axios. "But this time, with the brass ring of having helped elect a president and serving in the White House."

Zoom in: Conway — a fixture on Fox News — is using her direct access to Trump while working outside his campaign to try to have a voice in his thinking about what he'd do in a second term.

  • She's being paid by Club for Growth — a conservative super PAC that began the campaign seeking an alternative to Trump but now is aligning with him — to lobby against the bipartisan bill in Congress that could ban TikTok. Trump opposes the bill.
  • Conway also has gotten attention in GOP circles recently by weighing in on in vitro fertilization (IVF), abortion and Trump's upcoming vice presidential pick.
  • But her style and tendency to inflate her role in certain affairs have led many to tread cautiously around her — including those invested in Trump's success.

What they're saying: During his victory speech after South Carolina's primary last month, Trump speculated that he might bring Conway back into the mix at the Republican National Committee, which he has now remade with loyalists.

  • "That's news to me," Conway said afterward.
  • Since then, Conway privately has told people that she won't be joining the RNC, two people familiar with the situation told Axios.

Reality check: Despite having a wildly unpredictable candidate and funding issues, Trump's campaign has been a relatively tight ship under co-managers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles.

  • It's now facing a parade of people trying to join or return to Trump's team.
  • Conway's recent moves haven't been entirely welcome. Even those who like her and recognize her messaging prowess are unwilling to be publicly associated with her because she's raised so many eyebrows in Trumpworld.
  • "She is the go-to messenger when it comes to hot-button issues, one observer told Axios. "Anytime she talks about a topic, Republicans and Trump's orbit take it very seriously."

Between the lines: After the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos created during fertility treatments should be considered children, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) circulated an IVF memo that cited polling done by Conway's firm.

  • Conway has advised GOP candidates to "show concession and consensus" and pushed for Republicans to advocate for a compromise when it comes to abortion, such as a 15-week abortion ban — which Trump later backed.
  • Last month, Conway wrote an essay in the New York Times in which she criticized "identity politics" but urged Trump to pick a person of color for his vice presidential nominee.
  • More recently, she called Trump to emphasize TikTok's usefulness and popularity to his supporters, a person familiar with the conversation told Axios.

Conway left Trump's White House in 2020, saying she wanted to focus on her family. "It will be less drama, more mama," she said then.

In a 2022 book called "Here's the Deal," she wrote that she "may have been the first person Donald Trump trusted in his inner circle who told him that he had come up short" in the 2020 election — a claim Trump refutes.

  • She also recounted telling Trump over dinner at Mar-a-Lago in 2021 that she wished he were still in the Oval Office.
  • "We'll be back, honey," Trump relied. "We'll all be back."
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