What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Kellyanne Conway touts ‘Trump bump’ for GOP, defends ‘nationalism’

Nine of the 11 candidates President Trump campaigned for in the last week prevailed on Tuesday, notes Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. "The Trump touch matters," she said. Conway joins Judy Woodruff to share the White House’s reactions to the midterm election results for Republicans, plus the president’s exchange with a PBS NewsHour correspondent over a question about nationalism.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    In fact, that came up when I spoke with Kellyanne Conway a little while ago.

    We ran part of that interview earlier, where she spoke about the decision to fire Jeff Sessions. Here now is the rest of our conversation.

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    Well, yesterday was another history-making day for Donald Trump, the president, Judy, because in the last 80 years, only eight times has the president's party in power actually picked up any Senate seats.

    And this year, with the president's leadership and him barnstorming the country at these rallies, 53 rallies since he took office, 30 rallies in just the last two months alone, the president's party defied — the president and his party defied those odds and are picking up, as you say, two, possibly three new Senate seats.

    That is history-making. And I think it gives a real buffer in the United States Senate for more traditional nominations, for more executive nominations to go through. And so that is it.

    When you talk about the House, it is disappointing, but not surprising, that the House would go to the party out of power. Then, certainly the economy, we went to keep the booming economy going, and there's no indication that there's an appetite among voters in some of those swing Democratic districts to have incessant investigations and endless subpoenas.

    So , the Democrats, I hope that Nancy Pelosi, if she's elected speaker, will be sincere in extending the olive branch. The president certainly said he'd like to work with her and continue to work with Leader McConnell.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I noticed today, at his news conference, the president made a point of criticizing, even denigrating some Republican members of Congress who ran for reelection, but were defeated. He said they didn't embrace him closely enough.

    And I saw this afternoon that one of them, Congressman Ryan Costello, who represents part of Philadelphia, he made this statement.

    He said, "To deal with harassment and filth spewed at GOP members of Congress in tough seats every day for two years because of the president, to bite your lip more times than you would care to, to disagree and separate from the president on principle and civility, to lose because of the president and have him 'blank' on you angers me — angers me to my core."

    Why did the president criticize these Republicans?

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    That sounds like a pretty unhappy person at this point. I'm not going to comment further on his particular comments. I guess he decided to be very bold after the election results.

    But that as it said, we're happy for his service and the many times that he supported the president's agenda while in Congress, which was more than — more frequently than not, Judy.

    The president is making the point that he was out there helping to campaign for members of Congress, but particularly people running for the Senate and some of the governorships, and that he made the difference.

    The Trump touch matters. There is a Trump bump out there. The president is also saying that there were other candidates that he offered to raise money for, to do robo-calls for, to appear for or to send others. And they flatly refused. And some of them lost.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The last thing I want to ask you about, Kellyanne Conway, is the president's testy exchanges with news reporters today at the White House.

    He is — there was some critical back and forth with my "PBS NewsHour" colleague Yamiche Alcindor. She asked a question to the president about whether his using the term nationalist, referring to himself as a nationalist, was giving encouragement to white nationalists.

    He told her he thought it was a racist question.

    What do you think the answer to the question is, though?

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    Well, I would just note, Judy, that, today, the president took 68 questions from 35 reporters.

    And as many reporters in the White House press corps have said, we are the most accessible administration they have covered, and that he is the most accessible president. And he proved that today by taking these questions.

    I believe that he was — what he was saying to your colleague Yamiche is that the implication of racism in the word nationalist is very unfortunate, because there's a difference between nationalism and white nationalism.

    And I have to tell you, as somebody who's been here from day one and actually has been by the president side for three — three straight years now, going back to the campaign, I resent tremendously always being put into this toxic stew of racism and sexism and misogynism and xenophobia.

    It's a lot on our shoulders, because it's not fair. And, Judy, you have handled your career very differently than many people. I think, in today's media, Yamiche excepted, that many people are out there trying to make a name for themselves, and really getting very heated and sometimes very disrespectful toward the president.

    You saw that in an earlier exchange with a reporter from a different network whom I won't name. I think there's a certain decorum and respect that has to attend to approaching the president of the United States at a press conference.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Just make two quick points.

    One is that I ask this question because I have seen Republicans raise questions about whether it's appropriate for the president to use the term nationalism, for the very reason we have just been discussing.

    And, also, just to say a word on behalf of my colleague Yamiche, she would not ask a racist question. So, I want to get that on the record.

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    Well, I think that questions with racist implications, though, maybe — maybe that is a better way of saying it than — than how it was said.

    But it's — the implications are — are weighty. And, again, the president took 68 questions from 35 different reporters today.

    I know, as a very well and deep — deeply respected member of the press corps of many years, Judy, and decades, I know that you must appreciate, as we all do, a president who's actually willing to engage in front of the cameras for 90 minutes nonstop, including with your colleague from PBS.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, we thank you very much for talking with us this evening.

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    It's my pleasure. Thank you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Kellyanne Conway, thank you.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest