LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Strapped for cash and facing harsh criticism from a faction of far-right conservatives, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Friday called on the party to unite around the goal of defeating President Joe Biden. Called for.
McDaniel addressed a gathering of state chairmen and other top party members at the RNC winter meeting in Las Vegas on Friday behind closed doors in what is expected to be a key swing state in the November election.
McDaniel quoted Ronald Reagan as saying, “We Republicans will remain together, united like the union that our party fought so long ago to save.” “We will have battles ahead, but they are good battles, and worth fighting.”
McDaniel’s appeal for unity comes as former President Donald Trump and his allies have pressured the party to get behind him and effectively end the primary, even though he still has to face his last major rival, former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley is facing off. While McDaniel has battled opponents before, winning a competitive race for a fourth term as speaker last year, she now faces far-right Trump supporters who are waging a parallel effort that could clash with the national party. Are.
Campaign finance disclosures released this week show the RNC had only $8 million in the bank and $1 million in loans. While the Trump campaign is entering 2024 with $42 million cash on hand, Biden’s political campaign reported raising $97.1 million across various committees used to raise money and ended the year with $117.4 million.
Biden is already working with the Democratic National Committee, which automatically partners with the sitting president. An effort by Trump allies this week to have the RNC declare Trump the “presumptive nominee” was withdrawn after criticism that Haley is still in the race.
Trump has previously endorsed McDaniel, although his campaign and the RNC have at times disagreed. Trump declined to participate in the party-sponsored primary debate before this year’s Iowa caucuses.
But there has long been tension between the party establishment and some who consider themselves Trump’s strongest supporters.
McDaniel faced a week of attacks by far-right figures led by the group Turning Point, a fractious and well-funded organization founded by 30-year-old media personality Charlie Kirk which was part of an unsuccessful effort to oust McDaniel. Year.
A few days before the party’s winter meetings convened, Turning Point hosted a counterprogramming event and grassroots training session at a casino on Las Vegas Boulevard called “Restoring National Confidence”, a play on the initials of the RNC. About 400 attendees attended the invite-only event. The group, which includes some RNC members, as well as state and local Republican Party chairs.
Kirk, who hosts a popular radio show, is part of a faction of conservatives who have openly fueled controversy with the RNC, which he has criticized for spending heavily and being out of touch with the party’s grassroots base. Has been held responsible. They argue that this led to losses in 2018 and 2020 and the results were disappointing in 2022 as well.
Some Turning Point supporters have become RNC members, while the group is actively recruiting others, an effort that, if successful, will give the group greater influence over the direction of the party and perhaps a stronger hold on the party chair.
“We know a bunch of losers when we see it: from top to bottom, the entire RNC staff in its current form,” Kirk said on his radio show Thursday.
“They don’t even know what it means to win,” he said.
Inside the RNC meeting, some members, including McDaniel’s critics, said the turning point effort was ill-advised.
National Committeeman Henry Barbour of Mississippi, who has criticized McDaniel several times, said, “Attacking the brand and the chair does not advance our core goal of winning the election.”
And McDaniel aides note that the Democratic National Committee was $5 million in debt early in the 2020 race, when the party was trying to return a Democrat to the White House.
Turning Point is trying to expand its influence and reach beyond the youth movement, with mixed results. The group has struggled in its adopted home state of Arizona, where many of its favored candidates failed to win statewide races that many considered winnable.
Its leaders have come under scrutiny for their own spending practices, including charter jet travel, offering lucrative salaries and paying to host Kirk’s wedding reception in 2021. Turning Point is currently trying to raise $108 million for the three states. -Vote campaigns in Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia that will operate in parallel to efforts already underway.
RNC spokeswoman Emma Vaughn downplayed the challenges posed by people complaining online.
“The keyboard warriors and the Democrats may be focused on outside noise,” he said. “Chair Ronna McDaniel and the entire Republican National Committee are focused on defeating Biden this fall.”