It's almost like Donald Trump's campaign manager isn't even talking to her candidate these days. Almost.
On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway took to NBC's "Meet the Press" and gamely and forthrightly acknowledged reality. " We are behind," she said, adding that they were down 1-4 points in key states. (Which is actually a little low.)
On Monday morning, Trump appeared to agree with her, telling a local news reporter that he was " somewhat behind in the polls." Conway was apparently happy with this comment. She tweeted the following at about 3:30 p.m.
- Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) October 24, 2016
The problem? Her own candidate completely disagrees with her assessment that he's actually behind, and he had already said so multiple times on Monday.
In a fiery and angry speech Monday afternoon in which he ripped into the media, the pollsters and all manner of alleged rigging of the election against him, Trump confidently declared, "We're winning" multiple times. Remarkably, he said this just minutes before Conway's tweet.
"Just in case you haven't heard...we're winning." -- Donald J. Trump
- Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) October 24, 2016
He added later: "Folks, we're winning. We're winning. We're winning."
And not only that; Trump had also said he was "winning" in a tweet Monday morning.
We are winning and the press is refusing to report it. Don't let them fool you- get out and vote! #DrainTheSwamp on November 8th!
- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 24, 2016
After all of this, Conway sends the tweet she did about Trump acknowledging his deficit? What? Did she not see what her own candidate was saying in his speech or what he tweeted?
This is hardly, of course, the only strange way in which Conway and Trump have appeared to be on separate pages in recent weeks.
There was the whole thing about her downplaying the real threat of voter fraud, even as he was doubling down. There was also her downplaying the idea that Trump actually meant he would put Hillary Clinton in jail, before Trump doubled down again. There was that time during Wednesday night's debate when Conway appeared to disown Trump's "bad hombres" comment and suggest it wasn't something she would want him to say. And then she denied rumors that she would leave the campaign, but also added a dangling "unless..."
Trump is certainly the chaos candidate in this race, but I like to think the things he and his campaign do at least have somewhat of a strategic aim. In this case, I'm at a loss. What practical purpose is served by having you and your campaign manager publicly disagree about whether you are actually behind in the race -- something that inevitably leads to stories like this one about how maybe your campaign is off the rails and has no direction.
One credible theory I've heard before is that Trump responds to the things he sees on the news, and one of the ways for Conway to keep him in line is to appear on the news shows herself and kind of steer Trump in the right direction that way.
But whether that's the case or not, what we're seeing from Conway and Trump these days is edging on bizarre. They are either deliberately creating the appearance of chaos for no discernible reason, or the chaos is real, and they simply can't hide all of it.
Conway's comments, as I've said before, are of a campaign manager defending a candidate who doesn't exist. She's not even defending Donald Trump anymore; she's defending the candidate she wishes he was.
But he's still Donald Trump. And she doesn't appear to know what to do with that.