EWTN News Nightly: Transcript of Anchor Lauren Ashburn’s Interview with Kellyanne Conway at CPAC
Irondale, AL (EWTN) – The transcript of Part 1 and 2 of “EWTN News Nightly” Anchor Lauren Ashburn’s interview with Kellyanne Conway, Senior Advisor to President Donald Trump, is below. The interview will air at 6 p.m. ET, with an encore at 9 p.m. ET, Thursday, Feb. 23 on EWTN. Part 2 will air at the same time on Friday, Feb. 24 on EWTN. Find EWTN at www.ewtn.com/channelfinder.
Interview of KELLYANNE CONWAY, Counselor to the President
Conducted by LAUREN ASHBURN, Anchor and Managing Editor of EWTN News Nightly
LAUREN ASHBURN: Thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: It's been a pleasure. Thanks for having me, Lauren.
LAUREN ASHBURN: Talk to me a little bit about your Catholic faith. We know what a town Washington can be and how difficult it can be, and everybody is me, me, me and out for themselves. What do you do to combat that?
KELLYANNE CONWAY: My Catholic faith has just always been completely interwoven with who I am, what I believe, what I strive to do, what I don't do when no one is looking. And I'm a product of the Catholic schools, which I thought were quite remarkable, from kindergarten through twelfth grade in the same school, to a single mom, which was very rare in the 1970s. Very rare. I think the other kid in the school, in the Catholic school, that did not have a dad, the dad had died in Vietnam, as I recall. So it was very rare in a school in the 1970s.
LAUREN ASHBURN: That must have been difficult.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, I really didn't notice because I had this huge family, great support—my mother and her three sisters and my grandmother and my uncle through marriage, a lot of strong male role models throughout my family and extended family and friends. So—and our faith just was always our anchor, and it kept us very grounded, and it kept us knowing that, on the one hand, Lauren, there's always something bigger than you out there—God—and on the other hand, you don't need to feel hopeless and doomed. And there is always the promise of tomorrow, and you just have that faith.
It also makes you—especially now in this job, in this town—it makes you—it makes me very impervious to the naysayers and critics. It really helps you to steel—s-t-e-e-l—yourself against the negativity, the criticism, the constant deluge of people trying to tear you down.
LAUREN ASHBURN: That happened to you this week with CNN in a negative report about you having to stay off the air. You're a mom of three, four—four, a mom of four. You have an amazingly difficult job, and you're moving. So I think that the pressure is really on. People need to understand that; is that right?
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, yes. But, in addition, I'm also doing many things at the White House that don't include going on TV. If I wanted to go on TV, I would have stayed out of the White House, made a lot of money, and gone on TV. The President has asked me and other members of the senior team to do any number of different tasks and assume different responsibilities, and I do have to say, as somebody who doesn't consider herself a feminist and doesn't run around screaming "sexism," it is curious that certain questions are never asked of my male colleagues. Clearly—
LAUREN ASHBURN: Including this one or—
KELLYANNE CONWAY: I'm sorry?
LAUREN ASHBURN: Including this one, meaning pressure on women or pressure because you have a lot going on?
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, I'm just saying that the idea that people know—people have never been in a White House, let alone this White House, have a clue as to what's going on. It's very funny. I watch people on cable TV all day long, or I hear. I read the transcripts of people presuming to know what's happening there, and they simply don't. They're guessing, but it also doesn't matter. And here's why it doesn't matter. What matters is what President Trump does for America, and he will make good on these promises. He already is. He is a man of impact, a man of action, and you see it just in the first month. And he does that with a certain grounding and a certain resolve and commitment to his words, his ideas, to this country and a sense of—you know, his sense of others in a way that I—it very much reflects what I think of faith.
LAUREN ASHBURN: Speaking of, do you talk about your faith at work? As a reporter, I never did, growing up in the mainstream media. Now I can, and it's such a joy. Is it something that you feel free to talk about?
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Yes, I do, and I am surrounded by people of different faiths at the White House and in our larger work within the public policy community. And everybody feels very free, I would think, or could talk about their faith. We have—I have Jewish colleagues who observe the Sabbath every Friday, and we're all very aware that they are unavailable to us on Saturdays, and good for them. I think that's a beautiful expression of faith.
And there are those of us who—you know, I sometimes with Sean Spicer—and I found ourselves at the same church, at the same mass recently, coincidentally after Sunday show appearances. And he said, "Oh, we were on the Sunday shows. We need to cleanse ourselves," and we sat together and worshipped together, which is very special.
But, look, a faith conversation is important because, if you don't talk about faith sparingly or as you feel is necessary, then we—then religious liberty will be that much more diminished, and religious liberty and God in the public square or God in everyday conversation or who you are as an individual, how your faith motivates you, whatever that faith is, Lauren, then that will be that much more diminished, if not denied.
LAUREN ASHBURN: And faith and policy are an interesting intersection. Is that something that's talked about in high-level meetings, the intersection of faith and policy? It would seem like, based on your speaking about religious liberty, that it would.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, the intersection of faith and policy is so different than the protection—the separation of church and state, and I want to make that clear so that people aren't conflating the two. Folks are motivated by this country is founded on religious freedom, and we have God mentioned in our Pledge our Allegiance, on our currency, and in our oaths of office, et cetera. And so I think trying to either insidiously or overtly purge God from our lexicon and from our consideration set, as has been done by different people over different times, is unfortunate, and it's also antithetical to who this country is. We are a pluralistic country, and we respect the fact that—I respect the fact that many, many Americans don't believe in God or don't subscribe to a form of religion or doctrinal religion. That's their right as well. But I also don't want them interfering in my right to practice my religion or to raise my children as I would like to in that faith.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: When it was announced that I would be going into the White House as Counselor to the President, the President-elect called me, and we had a conversation on the phone that day. And then he said, "I want you to know something else." You know, he said, "I just had Barron here with me in Palm Beach." He was having some meetings, but his son was there as well, along with his wife. And he's just making the point to me that he is a family-friendly guy, and I know that because his family is the center of his universe as well. And I've seen him interact with his adult children, with his 10-year-old son, with his wife—or fabulous First Lady, elegant, brilliant First Lady, and I know how much he thinks about family. And he said, "You know, your children are welcome in the White House," and I said, "I very much appreciate that, sir, and I would never abuse it." But I appreciate the option and the overture, and I know he means it, and it was a big part of me deciding whether to stay outside with children who are 12—12, 8, and 7, goodness, times four—or to go inside.
LAUREN ASHBURN: And I think inside and making it work for your family. I wanted to be a White House correspondent and got pregnant, couldn't do it, and I was White House correspondent last year. Isn't it that women just have to do what they want to do, but also with the family first?
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Yes. Family comes first, and whether you choose to have it or not to have one, the family will have to come first, once you make that commitment. I think women put themselves last on the to-do list many times, and you have to make that decision. And, as I like to say, Lauren, we have to be products of our choices, not victims of our circumstances, and the—you know, children are a blessing, and to have a family is a blessing. I look at it no other way.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: I don't remember the last time I saw a movie, but that's okay because I think on the upside—and, look, the truest cliché in the world is that it goes so fast with kids. It truly does.
LAUREN ASHBURN: People told me that when they were coming up, "Oh, it goes so fast," and now my son is 17. I thought they were crazy then, and now I can totally understand it.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: You know, it's very true, and I like the example—because I do hear from women all across the country—I like the example of just being a working woman, even if you choose, as many of my relatives have chosen, to not work, to work at home and not be in the formal workforce. That's to be respected as well. I like being the example for many women. I hear from them all across the country. They talk about the balance. I talk about equilibrium. But also, I think that we often as women overestimate how much we can get done by this Friday, and we underestimate how much we can get done in the next 2 or 3 weeks. And I'm trying to find that balance as well, to be a little bit more deliberative and have perspective and patience, which is sometimes illusive to people who are in this business in this town.
LAUREN ASHBURN: It's true. "Easy does it" is a phrase that I think more women need to adopt.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: And I have to say for all that we all see how high energy, high impact Donald Trump is, certainly now as President Trump, but at the same time, I've come to really respect and try to emulate his—his ability to think through and strategize long term. You know, he's been a transactional success. He's been a transactional guy while he's successful businessman for decades, and part of that is him knowing when to make the deal, when to negotiate, when to wait, what data inputs to have, what consequences to weigh, and I really respect that. And I'm trying to learn from it because it's a great—it really is a great lesson for all.
LAUREN ASHBURN: I hope this is one of many conversations we can have about your life and your journey here in Washington.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Yes. Thank you, Lauren. Thanks. Thanks for the time and the platform. Appreciate it. God bless you. Thank you.
LAUREN ASHBURN: And you. Thank you.
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