New Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is a Republican campaign vet

By Diana Pearl
August 19, 2016 04:00 PM
William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire/Getty

Just when you think you’ve seen – and heard – it all from Donald Trump, he comes out with another surprise.

This week, it was his head-turning admission during a speech in North Carolina that he regrets some of things he’s said on the 2016 presidential campaign trail in “the of heat of debate.”

It was a rare acknowledgement by Trump that he’d made a mistake (he told PEOPLE just last fall that saying “sorry” is something he “never likes to do”) and many politicos are attributing it to the quick work of his new campaign manager, Republican pollster and campaign veteran Kellyanne Conway, who was hired just this week. Though she told ABC News’ David Muir that Trump’s almost-apology was his own work, campaign watchers anticipate to see even more traces of her influence as she works to better Trump’s appear with women voters.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest addition to Team Trump, and the first-ever woman to manage a Republican presidential campaign:

1. She’s an expert pollster and a lawyer.
Conway is a highly respected conservative pollster who has won awards for how accurately she’s able to predict election outcomes. She is the CEO and president of The Polling Company / WomanTrend, which she founded more than 20 years ago, back in 1995. As a pollster, she’s worked with big-name politicians like former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Vice President Dan Quayle, Senator Fred Thompson and Congress members Jack Kemp and Steve King, to name a few. She started polling for the Trump campaign this summer.

The longtime conservative earned her J.D. from the George Washington University before she went on to work as a clerk for a judge in Washington, D.C. and as law professor at her alma mater. Today, she’s licensed to practice in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

2. She probably looks familiar.
Conway is a regular guest on shows like Meet the Press and Real Time with Bill Maher, as well as a frequent commentator on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. According to The Polling Company’s website, she’s appeared on over 1,500 TV news and talk shows.

Those who are very familiar with the Trump campaign may recognize Conway’s name as well – she’s been working with them since July as an adviser and has polled for Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence in the past.

3. She was Team Cruz in the primaries.
At the start of the year, Conway ran the Keep the Promise PAC, an umbrella organization of four super PACs, all focused on electing Ted Cruz – and defeating Donald Trump. You’ve probably seen their influence in the attack ads they released, which feature clips of a pre-2016 Trump making impolitic comments about women, and his changing stance on abortion. Though she’s now on Team Trump, her past experience could mean that she knows his weak spots – and how to help him appeal to the same group she once tried to alienate from him.

4. She’s so intense about her patriotism that she wouldn’t let her daughter wear turquoise on Memorial Day.
Speaking with The Washington Post, Conway told them a story about her 11-year-old daughter, Claudia, to express a point about the candidate she’s working with.

Claudia, she said, wore a turquoise shirt on Memorial Day. Conway was not satisfied, and asked her to change into a more American shade of blue, saying “turquoise wasn’t a shade available to Betsy Ross when she stayed up through the night sewing the damn flag.”

She got her daughter to change by laying out approved shirts on her shirts on her bed – and plans to use the same sort of suggestion-heavy tactics with Trump.

5. She literally wrote the book on appealing to female voters.
Conway co-authored the book What Women Really Want: How American Women Are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class, and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live, which was published in 2005, along with Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. Meaning that Conway is not only an expert on the female voters in her own party, but she probably is tapped into what woman on the other side want as well.