Kellyanne Conway on spat with Clinton aides: "I took that personally"

Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Donald Trump’s transition team, weighed in Friday on the public feud with top Clinton aides, telling “CBS This Morning” that accusations of race-baiting during the campaign were “completely false.” 

When asked whether the Trump campaign felt it had given voice to white supremacists, Conway said “it’s just completely false.” 

“I took that personally, and I know that’s not true,” Conway said. “President-elect Trump has denounced every single element of that awful movement. He’s never met these people. He doesn’t ask for their endorsement.”

“But I think some people are stuck in a permanent campaign,” she added, noting that some of the feelings from the trail “were still raw.” 

Conway pointed instead to the president-elect’s message of growth and job creation as the real appeal that won Mr. Trump the electoral vote. (Clinton is currently winning the popular vote by more than 2 million votes.) 

The Trump aides’ spat with Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton campaign’s communications director, and others took place at a Harvard University presidential forum Thursday, following an exchange about Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News who has joined the incoming administration as the White House’s chief strategist.  

Steve Bossie, Mr. Trump’s deputy campaign manager, called Bannon “an unbelievably brilliant strategist who is brilliant, a terrific guy who... has a Harvard pedigree and is getting attacked by people who have no idea who he is.” 

“If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant strategist, a brilliant tactician, I am glad to have lost,” Palmieri said in reply, adding that she “would rather lose than win the way you guys did.”

Conway, at the time, replied: “No, you wouldn’t, that’s very clear today. ... How exactly did [Mr. Trump] win? No, go for it, Jen -- how exactly did we win? I’d like to know, because I sacrificed the last four months of my life to do it.” 

In her wide-ranging interview with “CBS This Morning,” Conway also discussed the administration’s deal with air-conditioning manufacturer Carrier, which resulted in the company keeping its operations in Indiana in exchange for massive state tax breaks over the next ten years. 

Responding to the Wall Street Journal’s editorial calling it a “shakedown” of the business, Conway said that was a “false categorization” of the talks.

Mr. Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence said the administration and top Carrier executives had “very genial conversations,” Conway said. “They were talking about the way to work together to get this done.” 

Conway also gave a look into the deliberations for the president-elect’s secretary of state appointment -- a decision which “has not been made” yet by Mr. Trump. 

Speaking of Gen. David Petraeus, a possible State Department chief, Conway said Mr. Trump and Petraeus had a “very productive” talk recently.

“I know the president-elect was very impressed with that meeting,” she said. 

Of her vocal criticism for a possible Mitt Romney pick, Conway said she was just passing on the “breathtaking backlash” against the former Republican presidential nominee. She noted that Mr. Trump “gave me permission to talk about that publicly.”

There are four people as of yesterday,” Conway said of the secretary of state contenders. “That list may expand, that list may narrow.”