Megyn Kelly vs. Kellyanne Conway On Transition: "Can We Expect Trump To Have A Thicker Skin As President?"


Kellyanne Conway tells Kelly the election was "a backlash against those who were telling Americans what is important to them."

"There was a backlash against elites, a backlash against those who were telling Americans what is important to them," Conway said of Trump's victory. "This statement, this transgression, this issue whereas if you look at the Fox News poll -- CNN, ABC, NBC, everybody was there, "CBS" polls, you see that Americans were very focused on jobs and the economy, health care, immigration, terrorism. I mean, the cues and clues to this election were right in front of him the whole time."

Transcript, via FOX News Channel:

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: Joining us now with more, Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser to the presidential transition team.

Kellyanne, great to see you.


KELLY: So what does that mean, fairness, right? Because I've all venture a guess as we saw a lot of those executives going in for the viewers, we saw a bunch of Fox News executives going in there. We saw Jeff Zucker president of CNN standing there, just in case you don't know those faces. So there was all of muckety-mucks from all of the media, cable, broadcast, you name it.

What is fairness to Trump? With President-elect Trump?

CONWAY: Fairness is actually not having presumptive negativity written about you and always assuming the worst about you. And I think that Donald Trump has faced an unprecedented avalanche of critical coverage when he was running and frankly, I think, it in part he owes his victory to that.

There was a backlash against elites, a backlash against those who were telling Americans what is important to them. This statement, this transgression, this issue whereas if you look at the Fox News poll -- CNN, ABC, NBC, everybody was there, "CBS" polls, you see that Americans were very focused on jobs and the economy, health care, immigration, terrorism. I mean, the cues and clues to this election were right in front of him the whole time.

KELLY: Let me ask you then, so that's -- and by the way, the one that sticks out in my mind and has all along was the New York Times piece on Melania Trump. Melania Trump, his spouse -- his spouse, right? She's not a candidate. Calling her a mannequin and a trophy wife, which if anybody had ever said that about any -- Michelle Obama was a lawyer. But Melania Trump has been a successful businesswoman. She speaks several languages. A mannequin and a trophy wife and it was just -- fine, they were allowed to say that about her.

So that's just --


CONWAY: It's as if the evidence have --


KELLY: The respect goes both ways, right?

CONWAY: It does.

KELLY: But let me ask you about that because even though the media did that to him, right, in his view, and obviously it's true in many cases that they went after him with abandon, the public did see through it. So has he learned anything from that? You know, can we expect him to have a thicker skin as president given that he made it, notwithstanding that kind of coverage?

CONWAY: Well, he does have a thick skin, frankly, as someone who works very closely within, that was in that room today, directly beside him. I will say this though. That's not what the meeting was about.

The meeting is not about settling scores and avenging grievances and bringing up, you know, different types of coverage. I think it's saying really that Donald Trump was the one person in the room who got it right, who understood America and reflected back to them what their aspirations and their fears and their frustrations were.

And now everybody has to work together. They are the fourth estate. Incredibly powerful. Anchors like you are incredibly powerful in terms of distilling the information and reporting the news and maybe some opinion to the public, Megyn, in a fair handed and complete way. And he will be the president of the United States.

We can have mutual --

KELLY: He knows he's going to get hit, though. He's the president.

CONWAY: That's fine.

KELLY: I mean, he's going to get hit. He's going to get hit often. He's not going to like it. That's the way it works, you know.

CONWAY: That's the way it works, but it should be relevant to the job and it should be relevant to the voters. And I have to tell you as someone who was like a chief spokeswoman for him and his campaign manager, it wasn't always relevant to what Americans out there were telling us at rallies or telling pollsters behind the scenes concerning them. But I actually having sat there, I thought it was very cordial, very genial. I thought it was very productive.

KELLY: So if we cover him the same way, let's say "The Kelly File," we cover him the same way we cover Barack Obama, the same amount, the same skeptical eye, he's going to be fine with that.

CONWAY: Yes. But can you say that about everyone that's going to cover him? I mean, you had journalist saying during the campaign, Megyn, that Donald Trump compels them to suspend all objective standards of journalism.


KELLY: Yes, correct.



KELLY: We had some of those journalists on this program and pressed them about the inappropriateness of that.

CONWAY: That's right. It's completely inappropriate. It's not journalism. It's opinion.

KELLY: That's right.

CONWAY: And it sort of stop him at all costs.

KELLY: That's right. If you want to take off your journalist outfit and declare yourself a pundit and go argue against him, go for it. But you can't wear both hats.

CONWAY: Right. And even the coverage over the last two weeks since he did win the election, it's been a combination of a few people wanting to cover his next 100 days. You know, what he wants to do in office. He's been very clear about 100 day plan is. Your viewers can go pull it off on our Web site right now as 100 day plan for them to see.

But then you have others still fighting the last war. You have other people on TV, a lot of pundits on TV, frankly, everywhere, really just trying to deny him and delegitimize him --


KELLY: (INAUDIBLE) ends with acceptance. So they'll get there eventually.

All right, I want a couple other things I have to ask you about.


CONWAY: What was this big sound bite, though, at the time? It was, "Will Donald Trump and his supporters accept the election results." He won.

KELLY: That's right.

CONWAY: And so many other people are saying #NotMyPresident.

KELLY: I want to move on from the media.

Secretary of state, now they're saying it's between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, which has a lot of our viewers saying, how could Mitt Romney even be in the running given how loyal Rudy Giuliani was to Mr. Trump. And even if you might like Mitt Romney, he was not loyal and in fact he savaged Trump during the primary.

CONWAY: But the question is are you loyal to the agenda that Mr. Trump, that President-elect Trump has put forward in terms of his view of the world and the person to which the secretary of state would function.

But I think there's a longer shortlist for that particular position and others.

KELLY: It's not just those two?

CONWAY: No. Highly qualified men and women who have come to Bedminster, come to Trump Tower. People of different races and ethnicities. All political persuasions. People who have different backgrounds, public sector, private sector. Most of them will not be in the cabinet. Most of them are coming because they love the country and they want to share what their work on a particular issue or a particular success story has been.

KELLY: Well, they spoke well, both men, that the meeting took place.

What about you, Kellyanne. Have you been offered a cabinet post?



KELLY: No, it's not. You've been one of his most successful advisers, his most successful. Certainly the highest profile women associated with his campaign. Has he offered you a position?

CONWAY: He has offered me a position. Very early on. In fact, the election night or the wee hours of Wednesday, he did. And --

KELLY: Is it a senior position?

CONWAY: It is. And I am very humbled by that. I think that it's everybody's dream to serve their nation at the highest level if they can. But I have four small children and I need to balance all types of personal and professional considerations. But I'm deciding where I am best for this president-elect and this vice president-elect in due course. But there are many qualified men and women who can serve him at the highest levels.

I do want to say, though, in terms of the people who are coming to see him, how thrilling it was to turn the corner and see people from entertainment, from the private sector, people of different races and ethnicities. The highest ranking woman in the Congress, Cathy McMorris Rodgers who has given birth three times while she's been in Congress. That's pretty impressive. We had Representative Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii there today who is a Democrat.

KELLY: What about Sarah Palin. Donald Trump had suggested she would be in his cabinet if he won. Is she going to be in?

CONWAY: I haven't seen her. I know that they are close. And that she's been a great loyal friend and advisor to him throughout the campaign. But I haven't seen her as part of the cabinet mix. But that doesn't mean that she's not.

Look, we're going to take the counsel of many different people, whether you have a official position or not. Your opinion, your advice -- this guy is a world class listener and learner. And he's somebody I've seen behind the desk as a businessman, as a presidential candidate and now president-elect.

I see the same process where he assesses different consequences and possibilities. And, you know, he's in command and control, but he really does take counsel from many different people.

KELLY: Question for you about Steve Bannon, senior adviser to Mr. Trump, who is from "Breitbart" originally.

He's quoted as lamenting the fact that he predicts a "Fox News" that will be more centrist in the future. He came after our boss Rupert Murdoch in some unflattering terms.

I question whether -- does he have a problem with a centrist news organization, with centrist news anchors? I mean, why would he object to that?

CONWAY: I think his objection would be to biased and unfair, which is not the way he characterize "Fox News" to me, anyway. But we're all looking for objective coverage. And The idea that some people think they're being objective in the mainstream media when they clearly have not been, when they allow people to refer to President-elect Trump in ways that are legally charged, that if you actually said that about him, in a court of law, you wouldn't be able to.

KELLY: No, he has to be respected.



KELLY: He's earned the respect of all.

CONWAY: He has. Thank you. And, you know, Steve Bannon is a brilliant tactician. He was -- I call him the general of our campaign. It's true.


KELLY: He, too, needs to be a unifier, isn't he?

CONWAY: By the way, he had a receiving line today when the mainstream media --

KELLY: Kellyanne, he, too, needs to be a unifier, doesn't he, as the senior adviser.

CONWAY: But he is. I mean, Megyn, we unified, we looked past and we're impervious to the constant criticism of naysayer. Do you know what was said about all of us? We're stupid. You'll never work in a town again. How do you look your four children in the eye? You've sold your soul. You know, it went on and on.


KELLY: I know. I've seen that happens to you directly.

CONWAY: It went on and on and on. And when you're focused at the task at hand and you believe in the man who is running for president and the man who is running for vice president, it steels you in a way --


KELLY: Right. But then to the victor go the spoils. You rise up by lifting, you know, each other up. You win. And so isn't this the time to be magnanimous like Donald Trump is and not to be, you know, predicting or projecting on to the press how they must cover him. They're going to cover him how they see fit.

CONWAY: We just want it to be objective and fair.

KELLY: Consistent with what they learn. It's an ethical standard.

CONWAY: We want it to be -- yes. And, Megyn, we want it to be a post- election coverage of the president-elect. That's the point here. The campaign is over. The people have spoken. And this man busted through a blue wall that nobody expected. He won states like Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania, which should have been Hillary Clinton's the whole time. And they were his because of the message, because of the way he's a master communicator and a master connecter.

KELLY: But we don't get paid to cheer lead for him. We're just paid to cover him.

CONWAY: Yes. I don't expect anybody here to cheerlead for him. I expect us to have platforms like this, where we can fairly and effectively and respectfully come in and state the case on his behalf.

KELLY: Amen.

CONWAY: Thank you.

KELLY: Agreed.

CONWAY: Thanks for having me.

KELLY: Great to see you.

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