SALENA ZITO: Kellyanne Conway unplugged.
Conway’s conversion from pollster to campaign manager came on a Friday that she describes as the low point of the campaign.
“The worst day of the campaign was the day before I became the campaign manager. It was Aug. 11, it was a Thursday, and I went out on the road with Gov. Pence, who I adore, who has been a client and a friend of mine for 10 years,” she says.
Conway describes in detail a creeping malaise that filled the organization, and people wondering aloud, “Is it worth it? Can we win? What is going on? What are they meeting about? Why did he say that? Who is in charge?”
At the time, Manafort, Trump’s second campaign manager after Corey Lewandowski, reportedly didn’t get on with the candidate, and there was dark talk about political work he had done in Ukraine.
When the New York Times reported Manafort may have received cash payments from a political party affiliated with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the atmosphere reportedly within the campaign began to turn sour and despairing.
The next day Conway was back in Trump Tower, helping with a video shoot in which Trump “was doing different commercials and appeals and videotaped messages to groups that were holding meetings that he could not attend.” They had been working on it for an hour or so and were about to leave for Pennsylvania when Trump asked everyone but her to leave the room.
After the others had gone, Conway asked Trump what was going on. “You are running against the most joyless person in presidential political history,” she told the candidate, “and you don’t look like you are having fun anymore.”
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If any one person other than Trump himself can be credited with Trump’s victory, it’s Conway.