Q&A with Woman of Valor Awardee

Kellyanne Conway

as interviewed by

Heather R. Higgins

at the

Independent Women's Forum 2017 Annual Awards Dinner


November 25, 2017


Heather Higgins: Thank you so much.  I am so gratified to see you all here.  Thank you.  For those of you who were here last year, you will recognize that this room is even more stuffed than it was last year.  I think we are legally slightly over capacity, which is a wonderful thing.  When I – we all have children, or many of us do, and one of the things you learn early on when you have children is that they ask you how old you are.  This is not a welcomed question, and I’ve come to tell them that I self-identify as timeless.  So, I am going to suggest, because this is such a fabulous occasion, that particularly as a women’s group, we are entitled, we are just going to self-identify as 25, every year going forward, every year will be our 25th.  One of the other things that happens when you have children is you realize how early the indoctrination begins.

Kellyanne Conway: Yes.

Heather Higgins: With ours, we realized in preschool that they were already working very hard on getting them to line up with the socially acceptable Left.  And so, I believe, when you have children, it is your obligation as a parent to indoctrinate early and often.  So, girls, Charlotte, Vanessa, Claudia, come up and be with your mom while she answers the questions.

You all saw the video, and that video was inspired by the fact that one of the things that you are not seeing in the media is that there are so many wonderful women who have been approached for working in this administration and they have declined, and they have said that they have declined because they don’t want to be put through that.  Or they have started on the process and then the hate starts the Left tactic of making it personal, making everything a personal attack.  And so, my first question for you within that context, but, also, you can make it more broad, is what is the most important thing that Conservative woman can do to help us achieve success?

Kellyanne Conway: Thank you, Heather, and thanks for inviting the girls to the stage.  I would say the most important thing Conservative women can do to achieve success is not to back down.  I want to say one thing I appreciate about IWF is not just what you’ve accomplished, but how you have done it.  You haven’t tried to be the loudest and the most angry.  You have often done it with softer voices, and well-reasoned facts.  So, I think the best thing a Conservative woman can do is have a seven-second version, a 70-second version, and a seven-minute version of why they are Conservative in the first place.  Because, what invariably happens is if you explain why you identify as a Conservative, chances are your libertarian friends and your Liberal friends say that can’t be possibly true, because that’s how I feel about those issues.  And they realize that when you want a smaller government, even willing to have a smaller government with fewer services, when you want a strong military, when you want a prosperous nation, when you want to exercise your freewill, when, frankly, women’s rights and women’s health stops being a euphemism for abortion and really starts being about women’s rights, but if you talk to people long enough you realize there are many more people who share these principles but either don’t identify as anything, or identify as something other than Conservative.  So, I think the most important thing is to subscribe to explaining to people why you are – why is it important for a Conservative woman to do that, particularly when you are younger, which I was a very long time ago, which is – the reason it is important you do it is because people, other women will look at you and they will say I like you and you are like me.  And so, it is different if you read it in a book, or you hear it from a professor, or you see it on TV.  It’s different, because if your peer group is that way, you say I like you, you are my friend, or you are my classmate, or you’re my neighbor, you’re in the same mom’s group, whatever the case is, we work in the same office, and then they’ll say you are like me, we are similarly situated.  And that breaks down so many of the, I think the barriers of denial, but also the barriers of ignorance, and also the barriers of fear of how to learn something you think you ought to already know.  So, if you – that is first and foremost what I would recommend.  The other thing I would just tell young women, particularly Conservatives is, learn to hear the word “no” more often than you say it.  You will be rejected, you will be passed over, you won’t be accepted to that college, you won’t get that job, you won’t get that promotion, that relationship wont’ survive.  That’s okay.  There is resilience.  I have learned much more from my failures and my shortcomings than my successes.  But don’t say the word so much.  Be the person that the boss and the community, and the family can rely upon.  If you say “no” then they won’t ask you again.  So, be willing to accept and hear the word “no” more often than you say it.

Heather Higgins: Excellent advice.  I had this interesting experience last week in my sort of marathon crisscrossing of the country.  I was going from D.C. to Phoenix, and as I sat down on this early morning flight, the young woman next to me said with very high enthusiasm, oh, are you a librarian going to the conference, too?  I had to tell her that I was not a librarian, but we started talking and she was the librarian for a very posh school here in D.C. where they all think alike, and we all kind of know what that is, and it caused some angst in the school because suddenly there were people who worked in the White House, you know, those people, who had children in the school, and it was a particular point of contention because they had had this fantastic mural painted on the side of their school all about bees, and the importance of bees and pollination, and all these bees turning into butterflies, et cetera, and Mrs. Pence had heard about it.  And Mrs. Pence came to speak about this.  And, you know, the fact that she would be there, apparently the parents were protesting, and I said was Mrs. Pence talking about anything political?  And she said no, but you know how horrible they are on the environment.  So, I actually walked her through that no, actually they are quite good and there’s a difference between a conservationist and an environmentalist, and the question is the role of the human being in the relationship.  And then we – and then she was going on about how lovely Mrs. Pence was, much to everybody’s surprise.  I had five hours to work on this woman, and by the end of it she wants to come to every IWF event, and read The Wall Street Journal, and – but I had five hours.  This was not a high ROI proposition.  One person for five hours.  So, what is your elevator pitch for why Conservatism is good for women?

Kellyanne Conway: Conservative is good for women because Conservativism looks at women as women, yet doesn’t look at them as only women, appreciates that part, that God-given part, that God-given aspect of them, but at the same time allows them to compete in any field, on any platform, respects individual liberty, life, and also Conservatism respects the value of the individual over the government, the value, the idea that our rights come from God, not from the government.  And I think we are more fun and more happy, so there’s that.  I definitely think that’s true.  And the other thing I would say, Heather, and this is probably more true now than it has been in quite a while and I know for folks who are products of the 60s and 70s you may say no, you should have seen it then, and I get that, but for these generations right now, if you are a Conservative, you’re not just distinctive, but you are affirmatively not part of what I call the culture of sameness.  I mean, the words, the modes, the slights, the insults, it’s all the same.  I really don’t hear that much variation and distinction.  I don’t learn much when I turn on the TV and listen to the other side, and I’m trying to learn.  It’s my job to learn.  And I don’t.  Because it has all been boiled down to searing sound bites and got you, and how to go viral, and how to – it’s presumptively negative.  I think Conservatism, but its very definition in nature, is presumptively positive, and affirming.  You are trying to conserve those principles and those liberties.  But we are also, frankly, just more fun and more happy.

Heather Higgins: We are.  It’s so true, that the same librarian, when we finished our call she said – or, our plane ride together – she said, you know you’re the first person I’ve been able to talk to on the Right about politics who hasn’t gotten angry or upset.  You’re just nice about it.

Kellyanne Conway: Yeah.

Heather Higgins: And I’d encourage you all to hold your tempers in check when they say dumb things and be kind.  But, once somebody is Conservative, a lot of people are reluctant to bring it out or to get involved.  We’ve got a whole roomful of people who are obviously concerned about the direction of the country and how to have an impact.  What advice would you give all of us on how to encourage more Conservative women to get engaged in ways that are meaningful?

Kellyanne Conway: Now is the time to do that, because the Left is very animated and engaged, well-funded, and truly suffers from Trump derangement syndrome.  It is remarkable for me to see, and it takes a lot for me to say that because I really try to be the happy warrior, the sunshine, the goodwill ambassador on many things, but the idea that a year later people simply truly have not accepted the election results, forget the fact that we were the ones – I was the one asked that seven times a day on TV – will he accept the election results?  I was like yeah, because he is going to win.  So, sure, he will accept the election results.  That’s easy.  But they still haven’t.  And they are – and I really feel like people are just trying to erase the last year and pretend it never happened.  And so, to me, that is perilous in that they will be much more engaged and turn out in higher numbers, and so I would say we have to make sure that we are on the battlefield as well.  But, let me also offer this: I think it is incredibly important to focus on principles and not personalities, on policies and not politics.  If we focus on personalities and not enduring principles, this is a city of institutions, not individuals.  Some people still need to figure that out, but it is true.  It is institutions, it’s not individuals.  Then we have to realize that it’s not about any one personality or individual, it’s about these enduring principles.  And to the other point, you can’t just think about politics in the next election.  You have to think about the policies.  It’s – we’ve been governing, now, in the White House.  I’m very proud of the record of this president and vice president that never gets any coverage.  The 71 pieces of legislation he signed into law, the 15 congressional review acts, nearly 900 regulations that are gone.  Yeah, it’s a big deal.  And just, you know, Heather, just the promise and the anticipation of a major tax cut has helped to spur this kind of economic growth and optimism among our nation’s job creators who have been punished.  I don’t blame these American companies.  They feel like they are punished here, to keep the jobs here, to keep the profits here.  But, just the promise of that has put the stock market at 55 all-time high closes, has confidence, consumer confidence number at the highest level in 17 years, unemployment level at the lowest number in 17 years, manufacturing confidence was 56.6% in the last year of President Obama.  It was 90% this year, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.  That’s not a rounding error.  That’s real progress.  And, so, I say all of that to you because when you need to defend something, you shouldn’t feel defensive.  You have got a lot to offer.  They are screaming isms at you and you’ve got facts and figures to tell.  And that’s just the beginning of this.  There’s so much more promise, and people say oh, I know, yeah, okay, Neil Gorsuch, what else?  What else?  Long after nobody can remember any of the staffer’s names in the Trump White House, Neil M. Gorsuch would have had a 40-plus year mark on American Jurisprudence, and that is remarkable.  And the last thing I would say to you, Heather, is when I heard that – when I heard Ted Olson, thank you, Ted, again.  When I heard Ted Olson talk about how Barbara, and you, and others came forward and said they don’t speak for all women, they don’t speak for all American women, and certainly not on this issue of confirming a Supreme Court Justice for life, I think we are back there again as of last year.  I think people looked up and said I’m sorry, she doesn’t speak for all women.  And women don’t need to – women don’t vote because somebody shares their gender, they vote because somebody shares their position on issues, and their values, and their vision for the country.  And I would just say that this country is very ready for a woman president, just not that woman.  And I would tell my three daughters, what I would tell your daughters, and your nieces, and your granddaughters, and your colleague’s daughters, and your goddaughters, which is: The job for first female President of the United States is still wide open.

Heather Higgins: Absolutely.  Well, Claudia, Vanessa, and Charlotte, you are, it is sometimes hard to see when you live with somebody, how really wonderful they are, but you are blessed to have a pretty extraordinary mother.

Kellyanne Conway: Thank you.  I’m blessed.

Heather Higgins: So, won’t you join me in giving a round of applause to our Woman of Valor for 2017, Kellyanne Conway.

Kellyanne Conway: Thank you, thank you, thank you.  It’s amazing.

Heather Higgins: No, you’ve done a wonderful job.