It began, apparently, at home. Then it crept into newspaper and magazine profiles of the political power couple and finally burst forth in 280-character fusillades and a string of op-eds. All the while, the awkward reality of their deep disagreement over President Donald Trump was ever-present.
Yet, Kellyanne and George Conway had refrained from direct, public sniping.
No longer. Now, the subtweets have become quote tweets.
In a post Monday afternoon, George Conway replied pointedly to a video shared by his wife, Trump’s senior counselor, of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
“Sleepy Joe is Creepy Joe. We need Ukraine’s help to defeat THIS guy?” Kellyanne Conway wrote, referring to the allegations at the heart of the impeachment inquiry – that Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to open an investigation of Biden, his potential rival in the 2020 election.
George Conway, a lawyer who has become one of Trump’s most notable and vocal critics, copied her tweet and retorted succinctly, “Your boss apparently thought so.”
The barb appears to be the first time George Conway had aimed his Twitter account, and its near-million-person following, squarely at his spouse, eliciting a swarm of responses online – some were amused, others fiercely critical and many more utterly bewildered.
As of Monday evening, Kellyanne Conway had not acknowledged the tweet – not in public, at least.
However, the two have openly sparred before, more obliquely in some instances than in others.
In an exchange with New York Post sports reporter Larry Brooks late last month, George Conway agreed with two critiques of his wife.
“Your wife is an enabler. Your wife is a cheerleader. What kind of game do you think you’re playing?” Brooks wrote, replying to a George Conway tweet that called Trump “a deeply psychologically unwell man” and “a criminal.”
“She’s both, but that doesn’t mean I’m playing a game,” Conway wrote back.
But Kellyanne Conway has dished it, too. In March, she defended Trump after he lobbed some intensely personal and occasionally all-caps insults at her husband, tweeting that he’s “VERY jealous of his wife’s success.”
The president continued: “I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!”
Later that day, Trump called George Conway a “whack job” who is doing a “tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife.”
Amid this acerbic to-and-fro, Kellyanne Conway told Politico that Trump was well within his rights to respond to her husband, who had accused the president of having a personality disorder.
“He left it alone for months out of respect for me,” she said of Trump. “But you think he shouldn’t respond when somebody, a nonmedical professional, accuses him of having a mental disorder? You think he should just take that sitting down?”
She added: “Don’t play psychiatrist any more than George should be. You’re not a psychiatrist and he’s not, respectfully.”
At the time, Kellyanne Conway said she and the president had discussed her husband’s tweets “in passing” but did not dwell on the criticism.
But her thoughts on her husband’s Twitter habit were perhaps best – and most explicitly – captured in a Washington Post profile of their relationship. In the article, the reporter, Ben Terris, transcribed their conversation, as Kellyanne Conway attempted to take her assessment off the record:
Terris: You told me you found [George’s tweets] disrespectful.
Kellyanne: It is disrespectful, it’s a violation of basic decency, certainly, if not marital vows . . . as “a person familiar with their relationship.”
Terris: No, we’re on the record here. You can’t say after the fact “as someone familiar.”
Kellyanne: I told you everything about his tweets was off the record.
Terris: No, that’s not true. That never happened.
Kellyanne: Well, people do see it this way. People do see it that way, I don’t say I do, but people see it that way.
Terris: But I’m saying we never discussed everything about his tweets being off the record. There are certain things you said that I put off the record.
Kellyanne: Fine. I’ve never actually said what I think about it and I won’t say what I think about it, which tells you what I think about it.
But at other times, Kellyanne Conway has bristled at questions about the political division in her marriage and has suggested they are rooted in sexism, arguing a man in her position would not have to answer for his wife’s opposing views.
“I’ve previously noted that it is unusual – especially in Washington and especially in Republican politics – for a man to gain newfound fame and power through his wife,” she said in an October statement responding to a heated exchange with a Washington Examiner reporter.
“Like every couple I know, George and I disagree on many big things and agree on many big things,” she continued. “Exactly none of it affects my position as Counselor to the President. Exactly none of it is anyone’s business.”
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Reis Thebault