After Republicans were shellacked in 2023’s off-year elections, and on the heels of a Washington Post report detailing terrible fundraising and cash-on-hand numbers at the Republican National Committee, Chair Ronna McDaniel and some staffers held a call for higher-dollar donors Thursday to promote what the party is doing to prepare for 2024. In the call, according to multiple sources, McDaniel and her top staffers completely ignored the 2023 elections, depressed fundraising, and low cash on hand – topics that certainly would impact the confidence of potential donors.
“They took no accountability for the elections this year. They didn’t do a post-mortem. They didn’t even mention them. They just talked about what a good job they were doing, then showed a slide of newspaper headlines that bolstered Ronna’s claims of doing a good job,” one person on the call told RedState.
Instead, McDaniel bragged about the RNC “community centers” being opened in Native American, Hispanic, and AAPI communities, and the “Bank Your Vote” early voting campaign being rolled out in eight states.
Oh, but first McDaniel brushed off the failure to obtain a “Red Wave” in the 2022 midterms by blaming it on bad candidates and bad messaging.
McDaniel told the donors that the RNC is building a good road then said:
I know we didn’t feel like we got the red wave, but not all the cars can get to their destination. You need a good road and a good car and a good message.
But we would have won the popular vote — we did win the popular vote. We would have won the Electoral College. That should make everyone feel good about the turnout and the opportunity to win the White House and win up and down in 2024.
In other words, the candidate is the car, and McDaniel can build the best road ever but if the car isn’t good, it won’t get to its destination (a victory at the polls). The RNC has spent quite a bit of money on polling consultants and comms consultants, in addition to the salaries of numerous staffers focused on data and comms, so if there’s not a good message, doesn’t the RNC bear at least some responsibility?
Her comments about the popular vote and the hesitation in her voice were an interesting touch, too.
So I am very excited about what we have ahead of us. The candidates are great. We’re working incredibly well with the sister committees. We are all team players. We’re rowing in the same direction. And I hope after seeing just a smidgen of what our staff has done this year you will consider investing this year to help us keep doing that and get these offices on the ground. Elliott mentioned we want 40 of these community centers.
What are these community centers? They’re offices in targeted districts with high Native American, Hispanic, or AAPI populations, which isn’t a terrible idea. But unless they’re staffed with people who are already part of those communities, and unless they’re permanent fixtures and not just, “Oh hi, we’re some white people here to save you from the Democrats,” and unless the party itself actually wants to hear from non-white conservatives and put them into leadership positions, they’re not going to be effective. As my friend Darvio Morrow, a black conservative in Cleveland, observed after Herschel Walker’s loss in Georgia in 2022:
“We have a lot of people who don’t feel comfortable with so many black Republicans flooding the Party..It’s a power thing. No one wanted to lose their position and power. They don’t want to start having to compete with a lot of articulate and brilliant black people.” UNFORGIVABLE
— Darvio Morrow (@DTheKingpin) December 10, 2022
Next, Elliott Echols, the RNC’s Political Director, spoke, singing McDaniel’s praises and promising “the most diverse party that we’ve ever had in Republican politics ever.”
You are the most litigious chairman in RNC history, but I think that by the time next November — once we’ve won the White House, we’ve held the House, and we’ve taken back the Senate, we’re gonna have the most diverse party that we’ve ever had in Republican politics ever. And I believe a lot of that is because of the hard work and the organizing efforts and the investment that we’ve made in communities that we’ve never been in before.
The Chairman mentioned this is something that she started in 2022, and today she mentioned the seven different community centers that we have around the country. And as we open up more in 2024, I think this is gonna make huge dividends for our party.
Again, these community centers aren’t going to make a difference because it’s not about the office; it’s about who’s staffing the office and about the attitude of the organization as a whole.
At the end of the slide deck, there was time allotted for Q and A, but one donor told RedState, “It was like a Joe Biden press conference. They only called on certain people and it seemed to be pre-selected.”
One of those questions — which wasn’t really a question — came from Gordon Kinne, RNC Committeeman from Missouri.
The first part of his question isn’t on the audio, and I’m quoting it in portions to respond to those portions individually, but he’s basically asking McDaniel where these potential investors should get their information about what the RNC’s doing with their money. The audio begins:
…or Steve Bannon or RedState or, you name it, you know, Charlie Kirk’s organization at Turning Point, that just make statements that aren’t true about what we are supposed to do and things and, you know, what our wheelhouse is for the party. I mean, they think we should be donating money to state — statehouse races, and that’s just not what we do.
Oh, no, these organizations are just so mean!
As far as anything written at RedState, the statements they would think “aren’t true” are about spending. RedState has been critical of McDaniel’s messaging and her ability to get out the vote, but we haven’t made claims that the RNC should be doing things outside its wheelhouse. This sounds like a scripted question in which a whole lot of narrative is delivered without it coming from McDaniel’s mouth. Plausible deniability?
I am a donor, so I want all of you donors to understand that. That’s the reason I’m on this call. I write the check, you know, put my money where my mouth is.
Mr. Kinne has donated around $30,000 since McDaniel’s tenure began in 2017. While that’s a sum many of us will never be able to contribute to a political party, that’s a paltry sum overall and certainly does not make this man someone whose investment advice should be heeded.
He continues with the question, and more framing:
And Ronna, where do we go to, to get the correct answers? Because I know just the last year we’ve been trying to deflect all these arrows from people shooting inside the tent instead of coming in the tent and working with us. So what do we do to make these people like myself listening feel like the money that’s being used to elect Republicans, you know, especially at the national level?
In other words, what are the news sources McDaniel approves of, those who will parrot her messaging uncritically? Is that really something potential investors should be seeking?
The timeframe Kinne references is interesting since it was almost exactly a year ago when RedState’s expose of RNC spending under McDaniel’s tenure was published, and that caused a firestorm within the conservative world. And people like Steve Bannon and Turning Point tried to come into the tent and work with the RNC but were rejected at every turn. Turning Point Action partnered with Scott Presler to do GOTV because Ronna has rejected his very public requests to be an official part of the RNC for far more than a year. I personally worked to try to get the RNC to partner with people who had the tech skills necessary to bring the party into this century, where we can compete with the various apps and data warehouses that Democrats have, and was told that because one of the people involved had criticized a powerful RNC committee member — one who probably still has an AOL email address — the RNC would not talk to that person.
What does McDaniel expect to happen when the RNC flips the bird to people who’ve come inside the tent and tried to help?
As Silk of Diamond and Silk said, we all worked with the RNC until we saw they weren’t really trying to get things accomplished.
— Diamond and Silk® (@DiamondandSilk) November 27, 2023
It looks like McDaniel and crew are seeing some of the downstream effects of ignoring the grassroots, but they still don’t want to change their approach. That doesn’t seem like a smart decision.