Former Trump senior counselor Kellyanne Conway told The Washington Times Wednesday that Donald Trump will be “unstoppable” in a 2024 bid for the White House if he campaigns on his winning themes of 2016 instead of grievance over his loss to President Biden.
She also said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s seen as the biggest potential threat to Mr. Trump winning the GOP nomination in 2024, hasn’t been tested in the national spotlight.
In a subscriber-only discussion online with Washington Times Opinion Editor Charles Hurt and Commentary Editor Kelly Sadler, Mrs. Conway said Mr. Trump is “sad and frustrated” with the direction of the nation under Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“In less time than it takes to have a baby, Biden and Harris have ruined this country with the [green] energy economy and the deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan — the list goes on and on,” Mrs. Conway said. “So he [Mr. Trump] is with America when he says ‘I want to make a change here.’”
She also said, “The second reason he wants to run is because Donald Trump is uniquely positioned to say, ‘I can do it because I already did it.’”
Mr. Trump hasn’t announced his intentions yet. But Mrs. Conway, who speaks with him regularly, acknowledged recent press reports that the former president is considering declaring his candidacy for 2024 sooner rather than later, and she urged him to focus on the kind of “America First” campaign that won him the presidency in 2016, when she served as his campaign manager.
“If President Trump wants to run in 2024, and he does … he should just look forward and project a vision forward, go to the future and recognize that every great presidential candidate, including him in 2016, has that vision of looking forward and reflects the people’s grievances, not his own grievances, the people’s grievances — their economic … anxiety and uncertainty, their feeling of … uncertainty and chaos and crisis everywhere we look, and reflect to them that he is the guy who will come and mitigate if not eliminate all of that,” she said.
She called for a repeat of “vintage Trump 2015-2016, that joy on the job, the rallies, connecting to people.”
Mrs. Conway said the well-known phrases of the 2016 Trump campaign such as “Build that Wall,” and themes such as cutting taxes and regulation would prove to be a winning message again, compared with the bumbling and the soaring inflation under the Biden administration.
“All of that [Trump agenda] was so compelling, and people understood exactly why he was running and what they would get,” she said. “A combination of vintage Trump with those amazing accomplishments in 2020, he can be unstoppable in 2024.”
Mr. DeSantis, who is running for reelection as governor this year, is often mentioned as a possible rival to Mr. Trump for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.
Mrs. Conway said Mr. DeSantis is an “unbelievably strong” governor but said he wouldn’t have been elected without Mr. Trump‘s support against a relatively weak Democratic opponent in 2018.
She also issued a warning of sorts to GOP donors that Mr. DeSantis is untested on the national stage.
“He obviously is highly favored by donors and grassroots,” Mrs. Conway said. “But I will say this — I love the donors. They’re very successful people in life. They’re often wrong about who’s next. People say ‘I want DeSantis,’ and they don’t know him that well. And they have to realize that whether it’s DeSantis or Joe Blow or Donald Trump or Charlie Hurt, if you have an ‘R’ after your name, they’re coming for you. So what everybody thinks is unconquerable and indomitable and electable, the media and the hard Left, they will tear that person apart. And we don’t know what people are made of until they’re put into that arena.”
In her new memoir, “Here’s the Deal” published by Simon & Schuster, Mrs. Conway doesn’t pull punches with some of Mr. Trump‘s former advisers whom she believes served him poorly in the White House and in the 2020 campaign. In the interview on Wednesday, she criticized particularly Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale, who was fired before Election Day.
She said Mr. Kushner is trying to “wash his hands” of responsibility for the election loss in 2020 while reaping billions in business ventures from his status as Mr. Trump‘s relative.
“There’s nobody who’s profited more handsomely from Donald Trump‘s presidency than Jared Kushner,” Mrs. Conway said. “If you believe the news reports … he‘s gotten billions of dollars for his [investment] fund.”
She clearly believes that Mr. Trump would be making a mistake to campaign in 2024 on his claims that the election was stolen from him in 2020, although she believes the election wasn’t conducted fairly.
“I don’t talk about theft and fraud,” she said. “His team had plenty of time to produce the evidence. They failed to. The electors certified those election results on Dec. 14. And then other people had the idea to blow through that, and have another fifth bite at the apple on Jan. 6. I knew nothing about that ahead of time. I’m still in shock, not in awe.”
She also said Democrats and the media are focused too much on the pro-Trump riot of Jan. 6, 2021.
“We’ve got to move on and look forward,” she said. “People are suffering right now.”