POLITICS

Kelly Knight Craft Says She's A Good Listener (And Friends With Drake)

Kelly Knight Craft is a powerful Republican donor.

09/27/2017 20:21 EDT | Updated 09/27/2017 20:21 EDT
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty
Kelly Knight Craft, nominee to be ambassador to Canada, attends her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C. on July 20, 2017.

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump's new ambassador to Canada says she intends to represent the president's agenda with a style that appears, at first glance, to be gentler than that of her unapologetically pugnacious boss.

Kelly Knight Craft spoke with CTV News about her plans for the job in her first Canadian interview airing Wednesday, the day after she was sworn in at the White House.

She demonstrated that less-combative approach when asked about the NFL protest controversy currently roiling the United States — Trump's decision to call out players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality.

''This is a country that promotes freedom of speech,'' Knight Craft said, when asked about the issue. ''I want to promote our constitution and the (administration's) agenda. For me to put my opinion is not fair.

Calls herself 'a great listener'

''Even though I may differ, I still respect the opinion of everyone else.''

Asked what she will bring to the job she said: ''Being a great listener.''

A well-known sports fan, philanthropist and powerful GOP donor, Knight Craft told CTV about her friendships from different parts of her life: Drake and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, to name two.

FilmMagic via Getty
Drake attends the premiere of 'The Carter Effect' during the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on Sept. 9, 2017 in Toronto.

She said she became friends with the famous Canadian performer when he visited her home state of Kentucky for a basketball game. She also mentioned her friendship with McConnell, one of the country's most powerful lawmakers who also hails from her state.

McConnell has occasionally bickered with the president, whose anti-establishment, trade-skeptical, more combative stance has put him at odds with the party's establishment wing.

The new ambassador, for her part, originally supported Marco Rubio in last year's presidential primary.

She said she supports the president's trade agenda — which involves renegotiating or cancelling NAFTA. When asked whether she agrees with his frequent threats to cancel the continental trade treaty, she repeated that she follows the president's agenda.

''We all have different tones,'' she said, ''but we are all seeking the same result and that's what I'm focused on.''

She added that she knows several figures in Washington who hope for a so-called ''win-win-win'' on NAFTA, meaning a deal that benefits all three countries, to use a turn of phrase uttered recently by another close ally of hers: Vice-President Mike Pence.

We all have different tones, but we are all seeking the same result and that's what I'm focused on.Kelly Knight Craft

Someone who knows Knight Craft said it's natural for her to have her own personality — while still working for her boss.

''It's a tone of voice thing,'' said Maryscott Greenwood of the Canadian American Business Council.

"She has a very powerful, but understated, genteel, way about her that's nothing like a real-estate mogul who cut his teeth in the '70s and '80s in Manhattan.''

At her Senate confirmation hearing this summer, Knight Craft was presented by McConnell — the top figure in the Senate. The questions for her were mostly friendly, although she was asked about one area of contention for her new boss.

Asked whether Russia interfered in last year's U.S. election, she said she believed American intelligence agencies that it did.

Previously on HuffPost: