The untold truth of Kellyanne Conway

She's Kellyanne Conway — pollster, GOP activist, and President Donald Trump's former campaign manager-turned-counselor. But who exactly is Kellyanne Conway, and what do we really know about her? We'll reveal our interesting findings after the jump, but before we do, let's explore why the New Jersey native continues to be of interest to the American public.

Conway first became a household name shortly after Trump's inauguration in January 2017, when she gave an interview defending then Press Secretary Sean Spicer's wild press conference about how many people attended the president's swearing-in. Spicer inflated the crowd size at the time (he later told The New York Times that he "regrets" those remarks), even though it was obvious he was being dishonest. Conway's response to the debacle went down in infamy, as she told NBC's Chuck Todd, "Sean Spicer, our press secretary gave alternative facts to that." Say what?

From there, it was one outrageous soundbite after the other, framed against the backdrop of some bizarre personal dynamics going on in the White House Counselor's home. But more on that curious tidbit later.

Fair warning: The untold truth about Kellyanne Conway is going to be one wild ride, so buckle up.

Before politics, there was produce

Before President Donald Trump and before the White House, Kellyanne Conway worked in a much different field — by which we mean, like, literally a field. At the age of 12, she received a special farmworker permit to pursue a job hand-packing up to 300 crates per day of blueberries at a farm outside of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

"She worked for eight summers during high school and college," said Bill DiMeo, her first boss, speaking to Inside Edition. "She was a very intensely motivated worker." DiMeo also revealed how Conway didn't want to be paid weekly like the other workers, telling the Daily Mail, "I remember signing one check to her for $2,700 one year and another for around $3,300. She liked to get her money in one lump at the end of the season."

By 1987, she was so skilled at packing blueberries that she entered into a blueberry speed-packing contest, which she managed to win — after a recount. She was also runner-up at a "Blueberry Queen" beauty pageant.

Hey, at least Conway has something to fall back on in case politics doesn't work out.

Kellyanne Conway was ambitious from the jump

Finding yourself still impressed with Kellyanne Conway's blueberry packing skills? Well, you might be interested to know Conway has been ambitious from a young age. The White House counselor's mom, Diane Fitzpatrick, backed this up when she described her daughter's response to daycare at age 3. "She went one week and said, 'I'm not going back. All they do is play all day,'" Fitzpatrick recalled to The Press of Atlantic City

The secret to Conway's determination might have something to do with her temperament, as her childhood friend, Christine Massarelli, described to the outlet, "She doesn't have a stress level." Massarelli continued, "I have never seen her to feel stressed, personally or professionally. She is always someone you can count on."

It's safe to say the political aide essentially needs to keep her cool 24/7 thanks to President Donald Trump's endless stream of newsworthy antics, so it's a good thing she's immune to stress. Keep on keeping on, we guess.

Kellyanne Conway uses child psychology tricks on Trump

Some people reportedly call Kellyanne Conway the "Trump whisperer," which is interesting considering she hasn't completely succeeded in getting the president to completely back down from his controversial statements and Twitter rants. But it's possible she was successful in softening his image with women in the weeks leading up to the election, as evidenced by exit polls, which show 61 percent of white women with no college degree voted for the real-estate magnate over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

So how does she manage to control Trump? Child psychology, of course. As parents of young children know, it's usually more effective to offer kids choices than to try to tell them what to do. Kellyanne Conway illustrated that point to The Washington Post with an anecdote about her daughter wanting to wear turquoise instead of blue on Memorial Day, and the publication said she uses the same methods to communicate with Trump: "Never command. That could insult him. Always make suggestions, backed with information in 10-second soundbites."

Although Conway might be patting herself on the back for cracking Trump's code, we're not necessarily comforted to know the commander-in-chief needs the toddler treatment.

Is Kellyanne Conway fixated on the Clintons?

Kellyanne Conway and her husband, George Conway, have reportedly been involved in lawsuits and other attacks directed at Bill and Hillary Clinton for decades. Kellyanne , for instance, has attacked the Clintons as a conservative commentator on TV shows for years. As for George, according to The New York Times, he unofficially worked on Paula Jones' sexual misconduct case against President Clinton and even participated in "a practice argument" with Jones' legal team, which argued before the Supreme Court that a sitting president could still face a civil lawsuit while in office. The court agreed, paving the way for the infamous Jones trial to go forward. That trial subsequently gave us the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the eventual impeachment proceeding. Ironically, the precedent set by that legal decision means that Trump can now be taken to court for any of the dozens of pending lawsuits he's faced since taking office.

Kellyanne denies any further obsession with Hillary, however, telling CNN's Chris Cuomo in January 2018: "We don't care about her. Nobody here talks about her. ... Nobody here talks about Hillary Clinton, I promise you." Hmm. We wonder if this is the White House counselor's version of alternative facts or if she's really telling the truth here.

Donald Trump and Kellyanne Conway go way back

Kellyanne Conway reportedly met Donald Trump in 2006 when she was a resident of Trump World Tower in Manhattan. She even served on the condominium board, and told The Washington Post that Trump "seemed surprisingly hands-on, showing up at meetings to hear the residents' concerns."

Trump and Conway stayed in touch, and Trump reportedly called his new pal occasionally to ask her opinion on various issues. Obviously, that relationship continued to deepen, with the two even spending time together outside the "office." Then, in early December 2016, president-elect Trump and Conway attended a costume party on Long Island. While Trump didn't wear a costume, he was spotted posing with the mom-of-two, who was dressed as Superwoman.

Although some people might view this friendship as sweet, there are other people who think Conway goes too far in protecting her boss and pal. Case in point: Conway's husband, George Conway, despises Trump and has reportedly been telling people his wife is in a "cult," as Gabriel Sherman wrote in a Vanity Fair article. Talk about an uncomfortable predicament.

Kellyanne Conway's husband can't stand her boss

To put it mildly, Kellyanne Conway's husband, George Conway, and her boss, President Donald Trump, do not get along. Their feud intensified toward the second half of Trump's presidency, with the two regularly trading barbs on Twitter. George even went on the Skullduggery podcast in November 2018 to implicate Trump for ruining the Republican party, sharing, "I don't feel comfortable being a Republican anymore. I think the Republican Party has become something of a personality cult." Then in October 2019, he published a scathing op-ed in The Atlantic against the president, titled, "Unfit for Office."

Of course, Trump isn't a fan of the lawyer's jabs. "George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife's success & angry that I, with her help, didn't give him the job he so desperately wanted," he railed in March 2019. "I barely know him but just take a look, a stone-cold LOSER & husband from hell!"

The bitterness between Trump and George has supposedly put a strain on Kellyanne's marriage, and a source told Vanity Fair, "It's not going to get better until she's cast out of the cult." Well, George has since formed a super PAC against Trump's reelection bid and Kellyanne is still loyal to her employer, so you can go ahead and guess how that probably plays out at home.

Kellyanne Conway's relationship with Bill Maher is testy, to say the least

It might surprise you to learn that in the '90s, Kellyanne Conway frequently appeared on Politically Incorrect, the panel show hosted by comedian — and staunch Democrat — Bill Maher. While the two still appear to be friendly on the surface, the truth is a bit more complicated. Conway reportedly left Politically Incorrect after she supposedly grew tired of Maher's critical comments about Catholicism. When The New Yorker asked Maher about it, he couldn't recall the disagreement, but he added the jab that Conway and the rest of Trump's team deserve "a Nobel Prize in hypocrisy."

After her hiatus from Politically Incorrect, Conway started showing up on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, even after she started working for then candidate Donald Trump's campaign. This was surprising because Trump himself has never been on good terms with Maher — he even sued the comic for $5 million over a joke. Regardless, during a September 2016 appearance, Maher introduced Conway as his longtime "friend." The ensuing exchange was overwhelmingly cordial, but the pair definitely traded some barbs. Maher told Conway that she was "enabling pure evil" by serving as Trump's campaign manager, while Conway shot back that the Democrats were "stuck with a lemon." 

It's quite clear, however, that Maher does appreciate Conway's husband. "Love this George Conway, the way he never misses a chance to call out Trump/Republican bulls**t, even while married to Kellyanne!" he tweeted in November 2019. Awkward.

What's up with Kellyanne Conway's allegedly partisan polling tactics?

Since receiving her law degree in 1992, Kellyanne Conway has worked as a professional pollster and political adviser. She launched her career with the GOP polling firm Wirthlin Group and founded her own business, The Polling Company, in 1995. Through her company, Conway was reportedly involved with some controversial groups throughout the years.

In 2015, her company conducted a poll on behalf of the Center for Security Policy, an anti-Muslim think tank run by conservative conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney. Trump cited that poll to support his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

In addition, Conway and her company have ties to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) — an organization labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2008. (FAIR denies this categorization.) Either way, FAIR President Dan Stein praised the ex-pollster, stating via (Mother Jones), "FAIR began working with Kellyanne Conway as far back as 1996, and we have used her for polling virtually every year since then."

It might come as no surprise that FAIR's leadership seems quite pleased that Conway is involved in the Trump administration. "[Conway] was possessed of intimate professional knowledge of the immigration issue as it related to the voter concerns," Stein told Mother Jones, adding, "And we saw that influence helping to shape Donald Trump's positions and statements once she came on board."

Kellyanne Conway didn't always support Trump

When President Donald Trump originally approached Kellyanne Conway about a position in his campaign in March 2015, she reportedly turned him down and opted to work for a super-PAC on behalf of then-Republican presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. During her time there, the PAC launched attack ads against Trump, including one that supposedly claimed Donald Trump supported universal health care, as Politifact noted. Moreover, Conway bashed Trump directly, arguing to CNN's Carol Costello in February 2016 (via Media Matters), "He says he's for the little guy, but he's actually built a lot of his businesses on the backs of the little guy." And in another interview, she wished for Trump to be more "transparent" with his elusive tax returns.

After Cruz's Republican primary bid fell apart, Conway came aboard as an adviser for Trump in July 2016, eventually replacing Paul Manafort as Trump's campaign manager. That was because Manafort was sidelined over allegations of secret payments from pro-Russian groups in the Ukraine.

'A cartoon villain brought to life'

There have been many unflattering portrayals of Kellyanne Conway throughout the years, especially where it concerns her supposed duplicity. Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski brought this to the public's attention in May 2017, accusing the White House counselor of playing two sides while trying to promote then-candidate Donald Trump on her show. "She would get off the air, the camera would be turned off, the microphone would be taken off, and she would say 'Blech, I need to take a shower,' because she disliked her candidate so much," Brzezinski claimed at the time. 

Author Cliff Sims, who published Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House in January 2019, echoed a similar sentiment about Conway in his book. "Kellyanne was playing a double game — putting a foot in both worlds — telling Trump and his supporters on Fox one thing, while bad-­mouthing them to the 'main­stream' media in private," Sims said about his behind-the-scenes time spent observing the commentator in the White House. But the author didn't stop there, quipping, "It became hard to look long at her without getting the sense that she was a cartoon villain brought to life."

Conway might be Cruella de Vil, or these anecdotes are exaggerated. The most likely scenario? The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Was Kellyanne Conway doubtful of Trump's election chances?

According to author Michael Wolff's January 2018 book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, few folks on the Trump campaign — including President Donald Trump — thought he was actually going to win.

Wolff claimed that on election day 2016, Conway allegedly spent the day making calls to her political allies, blaming what she believed to be an impending loss on former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and planning ahead for a potential future job in cable news. Wolff wrote that Conway "briefed some of the television producers and anchors with whom she'd built strong relationships, and with whom, actively interviewing in the last few weeks, she was hoping to land a permanent on-air job after the election."

Whether or not this is true, it's important to note Wolff wasn't afraid to ask Conway the tough questions right to her face. In April 2017, they engaged in a public discussion held at the defunct Newseum, where Wolff essentially told Conway that the media viewed her as an adversary. "When they say democracy dies in darkness, you're the darkness," the writer quipped in reference to The Washington Post's new tagline after the election. Trump's sidekick curtly replied, "I'm not the darkness ... It's like I tell small children. Just because someone says something doesn't make it true."

Kellyanne Conway has plenty of experience with embattled politicians

President Donald Trump isn't the first controversial politician with whom Kellyanne Conway has dealt. In 2012, Conway was working for the campaign of Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, who shot a blunderbuss in the side of his political aspirations when he made an uninformed comment about pregnancies caused by rape, saying in an interview with KTVI, "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Huh.

Akin's statement drew outrage for a variety of reasons — the presumptuousness, the inaccuracy, the entire premise. But Conway, at the time a consultant for the Akin campaign, defended him with an uncomfortable metaphor. In an interview with the conservative Family Research Council, Conway predicted that Akin would be able to weather the controversy, comparing his resolve to that of embattled cult leader David Koresh. "The first day or two where it was like the Waco with the David Koresh situation where they're trying to smoke him out with the SWAT teams and the helicopters and the bad Nancy Sinatra records," Conway said in the interview, (via St. Louis Post-Dispatch). "Then here comes day two and you realize the guy's not coming out of the bunker. Listen, Todd has shown his principle to the voters."

Akin lost in a landslide, and Koresh, of course, never made it out of that bunker. Maybe the metaphor is more fitting than we thought.

Kellyanne Conway's relationship with feminism is complicated

One of the more complicated sides to Kellyanne Conway is her relationship with feminism. When asked if she'd call herself a feminist at an event in February 2017, for instance, she replied, "Its difficult for me to call myself a feminist in the classic sense because it seems to be very anti-male and it certainly is very pro-abortion in this context. And I'm neither anti-male or pro-abortion, so." Of course, being a feminist doesn't mean you're anti-men — it's about advocating for women to be treated equally to their male counterparts, whether it's in politics or business, to name some examples. As for the "pro-abortion" comment, the correct term here is pro-choice. And, as Vox outlined, there are plenty of women who consider themselves pro-life feminists. But we digress. 

What's truly curious about Conway's statement is she grew up in an arguably feminist household. She was raised by a single mom, her grandmother, and two aunts, one of which runs a business in New Jersey called Mama D's catering. Despite the strong women in her background, however, Conway continues to ruffle feathers with her questionable comments about women vs. men. When asked about the secret to her success, she said it might be because she thinks "like a man" and "behaves like a lady." Sigh.

Please put your hands together for Kellyanne Conway

Even before entering the national conversation as a political figure, Kellyanne Conway had a way of getting herself in the spotlight — sometimes literally.

Around the time of President Donald Trump's inauguration, a video was unearthed showing Conway delivering a stand-up comedy set that concluded with an a cappella song. The routine was reportedly recorded at "D.C's Funniest Celebrity Charity Event" in November 1998, and in the footage, Conway riffs on the news personalities and current events of the day. Let's just say the clip hasn't aged well, but one thing has — Kellyanne Conway's confidence.

She is still the same fearless public speaker who is clearly comfortable in front of the camera, no matter the reception, and we don't think this will change anytime soon. Because as Conway noted in a March 2019 interview with CNN, she's a fierce competitor when it comes to verbal sparring. "I realized, that if anybody was trying to throw logs in my path, they couldn't get past me speaking directly, one-on-one," the political commentator said about her rise to the top.