The longtime Republican Party leader finds herself under fire as the party faces a cash crisis and those close to Trump take steps to consolidate control of the organization.
McDaniel — who was elected president in 2017 after leading Trump's successful 2016 campaign in Michigan — won a record fourth term in 2023 and is expected to remain in office until 2025. But McDaniel has faced a surge criticism from the base. to party.
“Is it time for Ronna McDaniel to step down? a Newsmax reporter asked Trump in a television interview Monday.
“I think she knows it, I think she understands it,” Trump responded.
But hours after that interview was recorded — and following a meeting with McDaniel at his Mar-a-Lago club in South Florida that lasted more than two hours — Trump sent a message on her social media site Truth: “Ronna is now head of the RNC, and I will make a decision the day after the South Carolina primary on my recommendations for the growth of the RNC.
The remarks came a day after Trump said changes were coming to the RNC in an interview with Fox Business. In the past, he had assiduously defended McDaniel despite widespread criticism from parts of his movement.
Two people familiar with Monday's meeting described it as friendly and said Trump did not issue any ultimatums. One of the people said McDaniel was not committed to staying until Election Day, but had not yet decided whether to leave, and that Trump had not committed to making any decisions.
Trump has begun making suggestions for replacements, including Joe Gruters of Florida and Michael Whatley of North Carolina, according to a person familiar with his thinking.
McDaniel was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2023 after some critics called for her removal following the party's disappointing performance in the 2022 midterm elections.
McDaniel is well-liked among the party's 168 committee members, but has drawn widespread criticism from right-wing agitators, who have attacked her for insufficient fundraising and claimed she is not loyal to Trump.
The Trump campaign has grown increasingly frustrated with McDaniel's leadership. They are concerned about what they see as lackluster fundraising by the RNC, as well as the more muscular role they hoped the committee could play in a general election showdown with President Biden.
Trump was also annoyed that McDaniel had a role in holding the presidential debates — he wanted her to cancel them and declare him the candidate last fall. Trump also repeatedly told advisers that McDaniel wasn't doing enough on “election integrity,” according to people who heard his comments, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal discussions. The party struggled to raise money in 2023 and entered the presidential year with about half as much money as the Democratic Party, according to campaign filings.
His defenders say McDaniel held the party together through seven difficult years and that Trump was responsible for much of the party's struggles, not McDaniel.
“If Trump wants to understand why we lost in 2018, 2020 and 2022, he just needs to look in the mirror. Ronna is not a magician,” said RNC member Henry Barbour, who has criticized Trump.
Trump – an accomplished host in his pre-political life – often finds himself trying to convince whoever is directly in front of him, which can lead to confusion about his true intentions.
The whiplash in his views on McDaniel, for example, appears to stem in part from his desire to deliver a forceful anti-McDaniel note to Newsmax's conservative base, while returning to McDaniel's call after a face-to-face meeting face to face with her several hours later.
McDaniel ran for a fourth term against the advice of some top Republicans and advisers.
McDaniel, the niece of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) who dropped the use of “Romney” in her name after the 2016 election, comes from a family with a history of Republican politics and has been considered a bridge between Trump and the party. more establishment, enterprise class. She is popular with some of the party's top donors, including hotelier Steve Wynn.