Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to President Donald Trump and his former campaign manager, says frequent rallies and events – not TV ads – helped Trump win North Carolina last year.
Conway was the featured speaker for the N.C. Republican Party’s annual convention Saturday, and she gave hundreds of party members an update on the White House’s agenda and a look back at last year’s upset victory.
“We literally could not have won North Carolina without our two greatest assets: President Trump and his family and Vice President Pence,” Conway said, noting that senior campaign staffers worked closely on scheduling when and where rallies and events would be held.
While Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign had more funding and spent more on traditional TV ads, Conway said that strategy didn’t work. “It’s expensive, it’s repetitive, and it’s just not the way people consume their information or share their information,” she said.
Conway said the Trump camp also worked to “manage our deficits” in urban counties like Wake and Mecklenburg, knowing that while Democrats would have a majority there, strong numbers in the heavily populated counties were crucial to winning statewide.
Conway also had a shout-out for Robeson County in southeastern North Carolina, a longtime stronghold for Democrats that flipped red in favor of Trump. “In Robeson County, you see a great example of the forgotten man and the forgotten woman standing up,” she said.
Conway appeared with Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, who grew up in the Wilmington area and was a frequent surrogate for the campaign in North Carolina last year. She’s married to Eric Trump and is working on the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.
“This is quite a time for the Republican Party,” Lara Trump said. “The Trump campaign is still active, and I’m proud to be part of it.”
Conway and Lara Trump’s appearance drew a few protesters to the Wilmington Convention Center. The liberal advocacy group Progress NC Action issued a news release criticizing the NCGOP’s choice to invite Conway.
“It’s no surprise that the NCGOP is embracing the politics of deception enough to invite Kellyanne ‘Alternative Facts’ Conway to speak at their convention,” the group’s executive director, Gerrick Brenner, said in a news release. “What better way to improve their talent for deception than by studying from a master?”
During her speech, Conway joked about her use of the phrase “alternative facts,” which she has used to describe inaccurate information.
“I love to carry around pictures on my phone of the last polling numbers before the election by the mainstream media,” she said. “Talk about junk science. Talk about alternative facts.”
In other highlights from Conway’s speech to the NCGOP:
On comedian Kathy Griffin’s controversial photo with a severed head depicting Trump: “Kathy Griffin thinks she can speak that way, because the circles in which she travels usually think it’s funny,” Conway said. “It’s not funny.”
On the opioid epidemic: Conway said one of the issues she’s been tasked with at the White House is the opioid crisis. “This is the scourge of our time,” she said. “It is very sad to watch families torn apart and innocent lives lost.”
On the Democratic Party: Conway says it’s unclear if the Democrats are being led by Clinton, DNC chairman Tom Perez or U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. “Their bench for the future is thin, and you have the White House,” she told Republicans.
“Candidates don’t prevail without a positive message of hope. If the message in 2017 or 2018 is going to be what it was in 2016, which was ‘you’re bad and I’m not you,’ it’s not a successful proposition in my experience.”
On Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement: Conway said the president “made good on a campaign promise to bring prosperity in protecting our sovereignty and get better deals for this country.”
But she pointed out that Trump didn’t immediately withdraw. “It took months because he really was balancing the viewpoints of people he cares very much for,” she said.