Donald Trump’s new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is described as a veteran Republican adviser. One of her old clients is Todd Akin, the Missouri congressman who tried to unseat Democratic Senator Clare McCaskill in 2012. Akin became internationally famous when he said that women who suffer ‘legitimate rape’ rarely get pregnant.
Conway was a consultant to Akin during the 2012 race and was quick to defend him following the wave of criticism. She gave an interview to the conservative lobby group the Family Research Council where she compared the attacks on Akin to the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidians’ compound in Waco, Texas. Eighty-one people were killed in the siege including notorious cult leader David Koresh.
“The first day or two where it was like the Waco with the David Koresh situation where they’re trying to smoke him out with the SWAT teams and the helicopters and the bad Nancy Sinatra records,” Conway said.”Then here comes day two and you realize the guy’s not coming out of the bunker. Listen, Todd has shown his principle to the voters.”
Conway later had to clarify her comments, explaining she was not really comparing Akin to Koresh. “I wasn’t comparing the men. . . . I don’t consider David Koresh a man of fortitude. Todd Akin is a man of fortitude.” Akin went on to lose the Senate race by a significant margin. The defeat also ended his congressional career.
The Akin controversy shows Conway has a history of defending outrageous statements. That should serve her well as Trump’s campaign manager. Trump has made a series of unforced gaffes, from calling on gun rights activists to ‘do something’ about Hillary Clinton to claiming the election will be rigged.
Trump’s new campaign CEO is Stephen Bannon, the executive CEO of conservative news site Breitbart’s parent company. Bannon is also no stranger to defending controversial statements. Former Breitbart writer Ben Shapiro accused Bannon of turning the site into ‘Trump’s personal Pravda’. It is hard to see how either appointment will improve Trump’s standing with crucial independent voters.