Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel joined SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Monday’s Breitbart News Daily to discuss the state of the GOP and its prospects for the 2018 midterm election.
Marlow noted that outgoing Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who was McDaniel’s predecessor as RNC chair, declared over the weekend that the Republican Party is in “the best shape it’s been in since 1928” – a statement many find controversial, if not surreal, in light of the White House turbulence that cost Priebus his job.
“When you look at the amount of offices that we hold, the governorships across the country, the Attorneys General, the state legislative seats, the amount of chambers that we have control over, the Republican Party is in leadership roles across the country at a higher level than we’ve been probably since the Twenties,” McDaniel argued.
“Then we have the White House, the Senate, the House. I think we are in great shape,” she continued. “We’ve got to keep that momentum into 2018 and 2020, specifically.”
Marlow pointed out that while there has been successful action on some of President Trump’s second-tier campaign promises, such as restarting the Keystone XL pipeline project and withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, the “big ticket agenda items aren’t getting done,” including Obamacare repeal, tax reform, and building a border wall.
McDaniel said there were two important requirements for moving forward on the president’s agenda.
“As party chair, a lot of that’s going to be laying the groundwork for 2018, putting in state and data directors, building out your infrastructure to turn out your vote, which we are already assessing it all over the country, specifically in the 10 states where President Trump won where we have Democrat incumbent senators,” she said.
“All of that’s happening right now without people realizing it,” she revealed. “We’re building out toward that 2018 election, and we were successful in these four specials using that same formula. So that’s part of it, and having the resources – we have six times more cash on hand than the Democrat National Committee.”
“Second is, what are we going to run on in 2018? What are we going to tell, what are our accomplishments going to be? You rattled off a bunch for the president with the Keystone pipeline, starting on the Dakota pipeline, and Gorsuch. You’ve seen the deregulation, you’ve seen him pull out of TPP and the Paris accords. All of those great accomplishments on top of the unprecedented consumer confidence and the low unemployment, as well as higher labor participation rates,” McDaniel said.
“But congressionally, we are going to have to have some accomplishments to run on, and that’s something that voters are going to be looking at, because it is the Senate and the House up in 2018. We’re going to have to make a case to Republican voters as to why they need to return us to the majority, and that’s going to come from getting things done here in Washington,” she explained.
On health care, McDaniel said President Trump is “right to continue to push and say hey, we don’t leave until we get our job done. The American people are depending on us.”
“I always like to personalize it,” she said. “I run into people in Michigan all the time who are saying, ‘I voted for the president and I gave him the Senate and the House because we need to get this done. My hours were cut, my wages have been cut as a result, and now I’m paying Obamacare and my premiums have doubled in the past few years.’”
“It’s destroying families. It is something that is hurting people across this country, and they’re looking for relief. President Trump saw those people as he traveled across the country. He saw people who are hurting, who are saying ‘we need help from you, you need to go advocate for us.’ That is who he is continuing to fight for, and Congress needs to recognize we have to get this accomplished, because people are hurting,” said McDaniel.
Marlow predicted that failure to repeal Obamacare would be “devastating in 2018,” and asked McDaniel for her plan to get past moderates like Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who seem determined to thwart repeal efforts.
“I do think we need to remember that the House did pass repeal and replace, and that was 217 Republicans,” McDaniel replied. “We did have 49 senators vote for it on the Senate side, and of course you have the vice president and the president fighting as hard as they can.”
She put the blame for crashing the latest repeal effort on McCain and two other senators, admitting that she did not disagree with Marlow’s characterization of McCain as eager to end his career by “martyring himself for the moderates.”
“We’ve got to find a way to get them to move the dial,” she argued. “Listen, we have a small margin in the Senate. You have 52, you lose three votes, you can’t pass things. As chair, I want to expand that math in 2018. We have real opportunities to pick up. We haven’t had a map like this in 70 years. We’re going to have to get reinforcements into Washington.”
Meanwhile, she urged the Republican caucus to “sit down and work as hard as they can, and at least show the American people that they’re giving their very best effort to try and find some type of repeal, and potentially replace.”
Marlow returned to McDaniel’s point about Republican success at the state level and suggested Washington Republicans are more easily intimidated by national media than the party’s state and local officials, a theory that would explain why a GOP with such an impressive record of success in state government appears so utterly lacking in confidence at the national level.
“I agree the mainstream media, the CNNs of the world, the MSNBCs, it has been severely lopsided,” McDaniel responded. “I think the Debbie Wasserman Schultz story really highlights that – the fact that you have a congresswoman who had a gentleman working for her who was under investigation in February for potentially stealing or accessing sensitive congressional information.”
“He was put under investigation,” she continued. “He then went and left his home, smashed hard drives. Debbie Wasserman Schultz continued to keep him on taxpayer funded payroll, and then he was caught in Dulles airport on Monday trying to flee the country. It looks like potentially, based on some other reports, he was trying to liquidate his home and other assets he had here in the United States, which shows that he had no intention of returning.”
“This is something getting zero attention from the mainstream media, and that shows the bias, because if this were a Republican, this would be getting 24-hour coverage, day in and day out,” she contended.
“I will tell you Middle America sees it,” McDaniel said of media bias. “We recognize it now from a national party perspective. We use a lot of ways to reach out to our voters and bypass the mainstream media. We do local shows, we take it directly to their local areas. We also use our data to reach voters digitally at a more personal level, because we have to find ways to interact with them without using that mainstream media that is biased.”
McDaniel said the four recent special elections have been “a great opportunity for us to test our continuing investment in data at the RNC, which we have not ramped back at all.”
“In fact, we have just continued to invest in that. That is so important,” she stressed. “You hear the data talking point a lot, but from a chair perspective, when you have good data on your voters, you know which voters you need to access. You know your persuadable universe. You know what message you need to get to them, and that creates your compass as to how you’re going to engage the electorate for each election.”
“I think in the midterms specifically, that’s going to be even more important when your voting base is lower, because less people turn out in midterms than they do in presidential elections,” she predicted.
“We’re ramping up our data, we’re already investing in our field operations, which means we’re putting people on the ground who are going to knock doors and turn out your vote. It will be people who are already volunteers for the party. Democrats rely heavily on paid walkers. We believe in using already-invested volunteers knocking doors, because you’re going to get more accurate data and a better opportunity to persuade voters,” she said.
McDaniel also said it was important for Republicans to “engage people that we haven’t engaged in the past.”
“You know, you don’t win over voters if you don’t show up,” she observed. “We’ve got to show up in communities we haven’t been in before. We’ve got to keep engaging millennials and getting new people into our party so that we can continue to grow.”
McDaniels advice for those wishing to get involved with the Republican 2018 effort was to visit the party website at GOP.com, but also “go to your state parties or local parties, and find ways to engage.”
“I started as a precinct delegate in Michigan, which is kind of that base unit of engagement,” she recalled. “Then you go to your county convention, and then you can get involved in your state convention. And get involved locally! Go knock doors. Find a candidate you believe in, because they’re going to be our supply chain for future leadership in our party, and you can make a huge difference at the most grassroots level.”
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