Kellyanne Conway, President Donald Trump’s top counselor, told Business Insider that she’s been “struck” by the “warm” reception she’s received from a handful of Democratic women on the Hill, with whom she’s hoping to work on “non-partisan issues in search of bi-partisan solutions.”
Conway said that several female senators, including Amy Klobuchar, Maggie Hassan, and Diane Feinstein, have made efforts to build personal rapports with her through conversations at White House events.
“I was really struck by how many of the female Democratic senators approached me and we had great conversations about our children,” Conway said, adding, “It’s definitely a female-to-female conversation.”
While Conway argues there’s a “certain connective tissue among women that is special,” she’s quick to note she isn’t engaging in what she calls “anti-male” feminism by bonding with women across the aisle.
“It’s not, ‘oh those men, keeping us down,'” Conway said. “It’s ‘how are the kids? How old is yours?'”
Conway mentioned a conversation she had with Sen. Maggie Hassan about the senator’s daughter, a senior in high school who was deciding which college to attend.
“I’m genuinely interested in what she has to say,” Conway said of Hassan.
In some cases, Conway simply hasn’t been able to avoid the interactions.
“I have this running joke, like, where will I see Amy Klobuchar next?” Conway said of the progressive Minnesota senator. “We just keep running into each other at different things, and it’s always very warm and very genuine and it’s a great conversation.”
Conway has touted her relationships with powerful women in the Democratic Party before.
Shortly after the 2016 election, Conway told Fox News that Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama’s top adviser, had reached out to her “several times” and that they’d had a lengthy conversation by phone.
For her part, Jarrett told Politico in December that she encouraged Conway to take the top White House job after Conway had expressed concern that she wouldn’t be able to balance parenting her four small children and a demanding job in the administration. In early January, Jarrett invited Conway to the White House for lunch.
Conway hopes to parlay these friendly relations into policymaking. Although it’s unclear what issues Conway is taking the lead on, she says that within her portfolio are veterans affairs, women’s issues, and the opioid crisis — all areas with potential for bipartisanship.
“It just stands to reason that we’re going to reach across and try to work together, try to find solutions for people,” Conway said, adding, “but in the meantime, the conversations are very much about children, and work, and clothes sometimes.”
While Hassan and Klobuchar say they’re willing to work with the administration, they’re also outspoken Trump critics.
Meira Bernstein, a spokesperson for Hassan, told Business Insider that the administration’s policy response to the opioid crisis has so far contradicted her own.
“Senator Hassan has long made clear that she is willing to work with President Trump and his Administration on critical priorities for New Hampshire, including combating the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis,” Bernstein said in an email, “but unfortunately despite its rhetoric on the issue, the actual proposals by the Trump Administration would undermine our efforts to help people recover and address this crisis.”
Klobuchar’s spokesperson said that she’s been included in White House conversations concerning the opioid crisis and believes it’s important to set aside her differences with the administration and “find common ground” on that and on combatting human trafficking.
“The Senator is hopeful that the Administration is taking these issues seriously,” the spokesperson said.