Four days after being promoted to manager of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Kellyanne Conway hit the Sunday morning talk-show circuit to defend both the candidate and her previous criticisms of him — including his decision not to release tax returns before the election.
During the Republican primary, Conway — who was then working for a super-PAC supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — charged that Trump had built “his businesses on the backs of little guys” and said his tax returns should “be transparent.”
“Now that I am on the inside, I know something I didn’t know then, which is he is under audit and what that means,” Conway said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “He has said clearly, and I back him up completely, that when the audit is completed he’ll release the tax returns.”
“I’ve learned since being on the inside that this audit is a serious matter,” she said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”
On Wednesday, Conway was promoted to campaign manager and Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of the conservative website Breitbart News, was named chief executive of the Trump campaign. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned Friday following reports that suggested he may have secretly taken cash payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine in 2012.
The campaign shakeup came as Trump fell behind Hillary Clinton by more than 7 points in postconvention polls and a day after the brash real estate mogul said he doesn’t want to moderate his tone for the general election.
“Everyone talks about, ‘Oh, you’ve got to pivot,’” Trump said on Tuesday. “I don’t want to pivot. I don’t want to change. You have to be you. If you start pivoting, you’re not being honest with people.”
In February, Conway called Trump’s attacks on rivals like Cruz “vulgar.”
“Do I want somebody who hurls personal insults,” she asked on CNN, “or who goes and talks about philosophical differences?”
On Sunday, though, Conway claimed that Trump’s tone has changed and that he’s already made a pivot “on substance.”
“He doesn’t hurl personal insults,” she said. “What he’s doing is he’s challenging the Democratic Party. He’s challenging Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s legacy.”
On CNN, Conway was asked whether his purported pivot would include a reversal on his vow to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.
“To be determined,” Conway said.
According to several reports, Trump told Hispanic leaders on Saturday he plans to unveil a new policy that would help find a way to legalize some of those living illegally in the United States.
Conway also defended Trump’s attempted outreach to minority voters.
“You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs,” Trump said at a rally in Wisconsin. “What the hell do you have to lose?”
Many in the African-American community viewed Trump’s comments as stereotyping.
“Those comments are for all Americans,” Conway said on ABC. “I live in a white community. I’m white. I was very moved by his comments. In other words, he is trying to tell Americans that we can do better. And the thing that he said that I think got a great deal of resonance is that maybe Hillary Clinton looks at you as voters, takes you for granted. I look at you as people.”