Trump-Clinton Aides Feud at Harvard Conference Where CNN's Jeff Zucker Gets Heckled
On Friday morning, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said of accusations that she gave a platform to the alt-right, "I took that personally."
A Harvard tradition ended up as a shouting match on Thursday night.
During a political forum meant to analyze the key moments of the presidential campaign at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, a three-hour conversation with top campaign officials from both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton camps was plagued by an impassioned argument between Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri.
“If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant strategist, a brilliant tactician, I am glad to have lost,” Palmieri said after Trump's deputy campaign manager David Bossie praised the president-elect's controversial pick for senior adviser and campaign chairman Steve Bannon — who was absent from the event — as a "brilliant strategist." She added, "I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.”
Conway then shot back, "Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform? You're going to look me in the face and tell me that?"
"It did!" charged Palmieri.
Conway then replied, "Do you think you could have just had a decent message for white, working-class voters? You think this woman who has nothing in common with anybody?”
The heated back-and-forth between the pair continued, with Palmieri saying Trump "needs to show me that white supremacy is not acceptable just steps from the Oval Office."
The panel was the first of the day and intended to be "a first draft of history, and we are trying to capture what happened here for generations to come." Outside the building, hundreds of students protested against Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News and Harvard alumni, and alt-right values.
Since 1972, Harvard's Kennedy School has held a two-day conference on the presidential campaign, which is attended by journalists and political observers.
Elsewhere during the conference, CNN President Jeff Zucker was heckled by GOP campaign managers during a Wednesday night dinner at the Charles Hotel.
The formal event featured Zucker in conversation with members of the media — Washington Post's Marty Baron, AP's Kathleen Carol, Facebook's Elliot Schrage and moderator Sasha Issenberg — about CNN's coverage of the presidential campaign.
When he defended the amount of airtime the network gave Trump and his rallies, the GOP campaign managers in the room, according to Politco, grew animated and offered audible reactions.
"I have to respectfully push back on the campaign managers who spoke here today, because frankly, respectfully, I think that’s bullshit. Donald Trump was on CNN a lot,” Zucker said in defense of the network. “That’s because we asked him to do interviews and he agreed to do them. We continuously asked the other candidates to come on and do interviews."
“I don’t remember getting invited to call in, though,” replied Sarah Isgur Flores, Carly Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager.
Others then echoed her statement, interrupting Zucker.
"You showed hours upon hours of unfiltered unscripted coverage of Trump, this was not about interviews,” said Marco Rubio senior advisor Todd Harris.
After the argument was opened up to the room, Zucker offered: "I understand emotions continue to run high, but that’s the reality. That’s not cable news’ fault, and that’s not CNN’s fault."
He was also criticized for CNN's decision to hire Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as a contributor for the network.
On Friday, Conway told CBS This Morning that Palmieri's accusations surrounding the white-supremacy platform were "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.”
Conway also attempted to clarify her criticism for Trump's potential pick of Mitt Romney as secretary of state, saying the president-elect gave her permission to talk publicly.
“There are four people as of yesterday,” Conway said of the secretary of state contenders. “That list may expand, that list may narrow.”
On Tuesday night, Trump and Romney had their second sit-down when they dined in New York City. The former Massachusetts governor described their dinner at Jean Georges inside the Trump International Hotel and Tower as a "wonderful evening."