Donald Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on Tuesday that Steve Bannon—the former head of Breitbart News who Trump has named his chief White House strategist and senior adviser—is “not as scary” as many critics have said.
The appointment of Bannon—who has given voice to racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and nationalist views through Breitbart—has been met with widespread criticism. Asked about the backlash in a TODAY show interview on Tuesday, Conway praised Bannon’s influence on Trump’s campaign.
“I promise you he’s not as scary, and he is as brilliant a tactician—and our campaign general, frankly, on the field—as everyone is also saying,” she said. “I know him well, I worked hand-in-glove with him. I feel that these charges are very unfair.”
Bannon has begun reaching out to top Republicans on Capitol Hill in an effort to build relationships with lawmakers, Politico reported. Meanwhile, Democrats and anti-discrimination groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center, have condemned Trump’s pick.
“I get a lot of credit for managing this campaign, and that’s nice, but we were a very solid team—focused, cohesive and frankly very much in agreement with the strategy, and he was a big part of that,” Conway said of Bannon. “This man believes in President-elect Trump’s vision, and he is there to support his vision.”
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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com