Donald Trump’s campaign launched-ish last weekend with two stops in the early primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina. I wrote extensively last summer about the campaign’s org chart and management philosophy: small and flat and with Trump calling all the shots. So many of the cast from last season—like Hope Hicks, Ivanka, Brad Parscale and Jason Miller—are sitting this one out, apparently harboring little interest in returning. But Kellyanne Conway has played a bit of a two-step—acting as a top advisor to Trump, albeit unpaid, while also a Fox News contributor, where she can spread the Trump gospel and call out strategies she sees as ineffectual. That’s prompted some to wonder which costume is a foil: TV news talking head or boomerang I-Just-Can’t-Quit-You campaign operative?
But I think it makes zero sense for Conway to officially join the campaign. It would deprive her not just of direct revenue from Fox News, but all the derivative economic opportunities that flow from it. The campaign needs to preserve cash since they launched so early in the cycle with big dollar donors not coughing it up like they once did. Having Conway on the outside as an advisor and evangelist is a boon for a candidate who is not getting airtime on mainstream outlets. Conway’s advice would also have a higher impact on the campaign’s strategy because of Trump’s obsession with the medium.
In any case, joining the campaign would essentially be a demotion for Conway, who would likely be forced into a power-sharing structure that includes Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita. They might be happy to share it, just because there is strength in numbers, but Trump will almost certainly obliterate any sort of organizational hierarchy. It seems like a no-brainer, and I think she’ll sit this one out from the green room.