Kellyanne Conway Walking Out Of A Post-Debate Interview On Donald Trump's "Rigged Election" Claims Speaks For Itself
For weeks, Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has reportedly tried to corral Trump into preparing for the debates and pushing major campaign messaging points. A recent New Yorker profile of Conway was accompanied by an illustration depicting her as a lion tamer. But Conway—as well as Trump's daughter, Ivanka—has seemingly been clear and consistent in her message that Trump would accept the results of the election, even if they weren't in his favor. However, this changed Wednesday evening when she walked away from an interview with CNN's Dana Bash.
The third and final presidential debate on Wednesday night had its share of shocking moments, but maybe none more so than when moderator Chris Wallace asked the Republican candidate, who for months has been promoting theories that the election would somehow be "rigged," to clarify whether he would accept the results of the democratic process. To Republicans hoping to move past Trump's candidacy, or perhaps run for office themselves, Trump's response was hardly reassuring. "I will tell you at the time; I will keep you in suspense," was his bizarre reply, which Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton immediately called "horrifying."
During Bash's interview with Conway, it seemed clear that she was trying to get Conway to make a specific statement regarding the campaign's policy on accepting the results of the democratic process. After praising Trump's performance in general, Conway appeared to vacillate somewhat, at first telling Bash that Trump would accept the results, but then adding, "...because he's going to win the election."
Conway went on to tell Bash that "many Americans agree" with Trump's statements about a corrupt or rigged system and alleged that the media colluded with Clinton. Bash tried again to get Conway to commit to a course of action on Election Day, and Conway replied:
Absent widespread evidence of abuse and irregularities, yes, I would say that, but I think I'll actually be saying to him, 'congratulations, Mr. President,' and I'll see you there. Two weeks!
Conway then abruptly walked away, ending the interview as Bash called after her. Of course, as a political operative, it makes sense that Conway would be hesitant to answer Bash's questioning too directly. Arguing too strongly in either direction could come back to haunt her when she's seeking work with other Republican candidates later in her career.
In some ways, the refusal to outright accept the democratic process is a successful diversionary tactic, because it draws media attention away from the many sexual assault allegations that have been leveled at Trump in the last week. (He has denied these claims.) Any time Conway spends discussing the results of the election is time she isn't spending talking about harassment—which is good news for the Trump campaign.
There may also be another, subtler reason why Conway is being so vague. If Trump does win the election, his initial refusal to accept the hypothetical results of the election may come back to haunt him.