As Republicans look to chart a path forward following Trump's loss, and the ex-president teases a 2024 White House bid, things are growing complicated for Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel.
The Michigan native finds herself walking a tightrope as she attempts to stay in Trump's good graces while a faction of her party believes it must distance itself from him to win upcoming elections, the The Washington Post reports.
The paper sets the scene with a recent Trump speech at Mar-a-Lago:
Amid the din of clanking glasses and cheering ... on April 10, the former president ribbed Ronna McDaniel, the Republican Party chairwoman, about her relationship with the GOP’s potential 2024 White House contenders.
“She has to be neutral,” he said, before pausing and adding: “She’s supposed to be neutral.”
McDaniel interjected, yelling back to the stage: “I said you’re my president!” referring to her introduction of Trump earlier that night.
“She’s neutral like I’m neutral,” Trump said, drawing loud laughs from the crowd of Republican donors, according to audio of the speech reviewed by The Washington Post.
But some wonder whether McDaniel can remain neutral as she reportedly remains in regular contact with him and spent more than $100,000 in RNC funds on the event.
While Trump maintains broad support throughout the party, some of the RNC’s 168 committee members want to see the party create at least a modicum of distance from Trump — or at least grapple with the fact that the GOP lost the White House, Senate and House during his administration and reflect on how to improve its fortunes in 2022 and 2024, according to party officials and committee members. Other members say they have been frustrated the GOP has not commissioned any wide review of what to do next, as the RNC did after Mitt Romney lost the White House in 2012.
“We’ve got to be clear-eyed about the last cycle,” said Henry Barbour, a national committeeman from Mississippi. “We lost.”
Barbour said it was a mistake for the RNC to hold part of its spring donor retreat at Mar-a-Lago, adding that some of the former president’s rhetoric is not helping the party.
“The RNC has to be independent. That’s fundamental to hold fair primaries. . . . Holding part of our RNC donor retreat at the home of one of the potential 2024 candidates is inconsistent with being independent,” Barbour said.