Bannon: Conway standing by Trump was key to surviving ‘Access Hollywood’ tape

Bannon: Conway standing by Trump was key to surviving ‘Access Hollywood’ tape
© Greg Nash

Kellyanne Conway’s “relentless advocacy” for Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpPaul Ryan defends Navy admiral after Trump's criticism Trump discussing visit overseas to troops following criticism: report Retired Army General: Trump is ‘acting like an 8th grader’ in attacking ex-Navy SEAL who led bin Laden operation MORE after the bombshell “Access Hollywood” tape’s release in October was the central reason he survived the scandal, White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon says.

“If Kellyanne had not been there when the firestorm hit, I don’t know if we would have made it,” Bannon told The Atlantic. “She literally became a cult figure during that time period, just because of her relentless advocacy for Trump on TV.”

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Conway, then Trump’s campaign manager, was ubiquitous on cable news and radio after The Washington Post published the recording — off-camera remarks made during a taping of "Access Hollywood" — in October. In it, Trump is heard bragging about groping and kissing women without their consent and saying that he made sexual advances on a married woman.

While calling Trump's comments "indefensible," Conway argued that Trump's statements were only bluster. 

The 50-year-old Conway also implied that she was a victim of sexual harassment herself when she was "younger and prettier" by lawmakers who had rebuked Trump, the Atlantic said.

The recording was seen as the low point for the Trump campaign, coming just two days before the second presidential debate in St. Louis, dominating headlines before the event, which drew nearly 70 million viewers. 

Trump dismissed the 11-year-old tape as "locker room talk."

Trump surprisingly won among white women on Election Day despite expectations, capturing 53 percent support, according to exit polls.