Today, the Trump campaign announced the hire of Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster who touts herself as an expert on the “gender gap.” In a statement, the campaign said that Conway will serve as senior advisor to campaign chair, Paul Manafort. The campaign noted that Conway is “widely regarded as an expert on female consumers and voters.”
The Trump campaign might be congratulated for realizing that, despite Trump’s bloviating about how he’s going to be great for women, they have a rather noticeable problem with women voters. A recent Reuters poll found that half of American women have a “very unfavorable” view of the animated bottle of self-tanner currently running for President. In an effort to continue driving a wedge between Trump and female voters, both the Clinton campaign and anti-Trump conservative groups have released ads featuring all of the incredibly terrible and very dumb things Trump has said about women. And they’re very effective.
Conway’s hire is likely an attempt to reframe that narrative, but given her history, it’s likely that if Trump does attempt a direct appeal to women, those women will be of a particular traditional conservative mold. To get a sense of Conway’s perspective on gender and the “gender gap,” take the speech (video above) she gave to the Conservative Women’s Network in 2011, an event co-sponsored by the very conservative Clare Boothe Luce Foundation and Heritage Foundation. In the speech, Conway bemoans feminism as “gloom and doom,” and argues that “femininity is replacing feminism as a leading attribute for American women.” She then continues with some familiar talking points for conservative women, namely that hating men (“the revulsion towards men in your life”) is “part and parcel of the feminist movement.” She also shares some helpful fashion tips like, “If women want to be taken seriously in the workforce, looking feminine is a good place to start.”
Conway has a long history advising male candidates on how to appeal to women and, given her client roster, it’s hard to tell if she’s very bad at her job or was hired by some of the most irredeemably sexist men in politics. Her resume includes work for Newt Gingrich and Indiana Governor Mike Pence, as well as President of Keep the Promise, a single candidate PAC that supported Ted Cruz. According to its website, the PAC sought to “restore America’s standing in the world as a shining city on a hill.”
Perhaps her most famous client was Todd Akin, the 2012 Missouri Senate candidate whose legacy is the phrase “legitimate rape.” According to Politico, in 2013, Conway was paid by House Republicans for doling out the following advice:
Conway said rape is a “four-letter word,” and Republicans simply need to stop talking about it in their races for office.
It’s telling that in the twenty-first century, members of the House of Representatives needed to pay a woman to tell them that. It’s equally telling that Trump, with his affinity for comparing nearly everything to rape, needs someone to tell him that.
Video via YouTube.