Kellyanne Conway is Donald Trump's new campaign manager
Conway wants to focus Trump's policy message while retaining his "authenticity"
Donald Trump’s new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway outlined Thursday her vision of the campaign’s strategy for the final stretch of the presidential race, vowing to “sharpen the message” and “win the argument every day” while preserving the GOP nominee’s “authenticity that you simply can’t buy.”
Conway also revealed the campaign will be putting two new ads in rotation this week.
“We were together reviewing the last cuts of our ads, which will start this week going up in five states. Two different ads in rotation. So it will no longer be $102 million for Hillary Clinton and her super PACs versus zero for us,” she told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” during a wide-ranging interview.
The veteran pollster acknowledged polling currently shows Trump behind in the race, but said it’s to his advantage.
“I think it helps us to be a little bit behind, and we are. It lights a fire under us and reminds us what we need to do to get this done,” she said.
And Conway emphasized the importance of the upcoming debates as an opportunity to move the polling needle, saying that the Hillary Clinton stand-in for this weekend’s prep would likely please Trump, though she wouldn’t reveal the person’s identity.
“I think he will be very happy with the choice,” she said.
And Conway wouldn’t deny that ex-Fox News chief Roger Ailes was helping Trump with that prep, saying only that Ailes had “no formal position” with the campaign other than being “old friends” with Trump.
Conway said the campaign would work on refining Trump’s message through a more specific policy focus, but without forfeiting the unconventional style that has contributed to his reputation as a “change agent” in a “change election.”
“He’s going to give these policy speeches,” she said. “You’ll see more of those. Next week is immigration week, followed by education week.”
But Conway also emphasized that Trump would stay true to himself.
“I think we’re going to sharpen the message. We’re going to make sure Donald Trump is comfortable about being in his own skin – that he doesn’t lose that authenticity that you simply can’t buy and a pollster can’t give you. Voters know if you’re comfortable in your own skin,” she said. “Let him be him, in this sense.”
The pollster said the campaign’s emphasis will be winning voters by taking on the issues.
“We feel when it comes to the issues, we’ve really never had such a contrast election. My goal as campaign manager for Donald Trump is to win the argument. You have to win the argument every day. Emphasize, focus, reiterate,” she said.
Conway also offered support for the campaign’s newest hire, campaign CEO Steve Bannon – the former head of Breitbart, a conservative news organization that has built a reputation for its sometimes edgy and typically anti-establishment news content. The website emerged as a vocal cheerleader for Trump throughout the Republican primary to the chagrin of other GOP campaigns.
“I’m extremely comfortable with Steve Bannon in the campaign. I thought it was a masterful choice,” Conway said. “I’m a huge proponent in the ground game, in building a campaign from the bottom up. Steve also, he’s a big strategic thinker.”
She praised him as a “highly effective, brilliant tactician who gets things done.”
“He executes … we have 82 days left. I think he’s someone who’s going to be at headquarters basically executing on many different instances,” Conway said. “We feel like we’re up against a major machine here. And we – you know, you need people ready for battle, at least willing to leave it all on the field.”