Source: Signs point to McDaniel to lead RNC

Chad Livengood, and Melissa Nann Burke

Grand Rapids President-elect Donald Trump briefly lauded Michigan GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel at a Friday post-election rally amid speculation he’s eyeing her to head the Republican National Committee.

Trump noted McDaniel didn’t get much sleep the past six months as she helped promote his candidacy in Michigan. But he didn’t announce her as his RNC selection during the speech — something he has done with cabinet choices at other rallies and events.

McDaniel briefly addressed the crowd before the New York businessman’s speech.

“They said a Republican could never win Michigan. I knew better. You knew better. And Donald Trump knew better,” she said at the DeltaPlex Arena in suburban Grand Rapids.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller sidestepped a question Friday morning when asked to confirm published reports that McDaniel was Trump’s pick for RNC chair.

“The president-elect has not yet made an announcement on that front and we’ll let you know as soon as he does,” Miller said in a daily conference call with reporters about Trump’s presidential transition. reported Friday morning that McDaniel had emerged as Trump’s likely pick to lead the RNC after Reince Priebus steps down at year’s end to become White House chief of staff. Politico cited anonymous sources familiar with the president-elect’s decision.

A Republican consultant briefed on discussions within Trump’s inner circle told The Detroit News on Friday that all signs point to McDaniel emerging as Trump’s favorite over Nick Ayers, a Georgia-based Republican strategist.

As a party chair, McDaniel is already one of the 168 members of the Republican National Committee, which is typically a prerequisite for approval by the GOP’s governing board. Ayers is an RNC outsider.

Trump on Wednesday praised McDaniel before a crowd of nearly 1,000 donors at a morning fundraiser in New York City, directing her to stand up and be applauded for helping him win Michigan.

“It was a nice shout-out about (how) Ronna did a great job in Michigan and something about more to come about her or something like that,” Attorney General Bill Schuette told The News on Thursday. “He did not specify.”

McDaniel is the niece of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, whom Trump has been considering for secretary of state despite being bitter enemies during the primaries.

She has declined to comment in recent weeks on whether she wants to be RNC chair, saying that she’s focused on running for a second term as Michigan Republican Party chair at the state GOP convention in February.

A person speaking for McDaniel declined to comment Friday on the Politico report.

Schuette, who is believed to be gearing up for a 2018 run for governor, said he endorses McDaniel for leading the national GOP.

“I will support Ronna Romney for anything she wants, that’s for sure,” Schuette said. “I’m going to support her if she’s our next GOP chair, and I’ll support her if she’s our next RNC chair. She did a terrific job.”

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Twitter: @ChadLivengood

Detroit News Staff Writer Jonathan Oosting contributed.