RNC chair Ronna McDaniel defends Trump record, says GOP more united than divided

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

Republican National Committee chair and former Michigan GOP chair Ronna McDaniel on Sunday criticized President Joe Biden's policies, insisted the Republican Party is more united than it is divided, and said QAnon conspiracy theorists are not welcome within the party.

In an interview with host Margaret Brennan on CBS' "Face the Nation," McDaniel, a Northville resident, defended former President Donald Trump's record when asked why the GOP is "doubling down" on Trump as the party faces internal divisions over his legacy, his role in inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and his possible future in politics.

"It's up to the voters, and the voters are saying, overwhelmingly, they agree with what President Trump did in office," McDaniel said. 

Voters can see Biden rolling back part of Trump's agenda, she said.

"You see Joe Biden strip away energy independence and cancel the Keystone Pipeline. As you see Joe Biden say, 'I’m going to prioritize opening our borders over opening our schools, opening our economies,'" she added.

 "When you see the vaccine rollout that started under Operation Warp Speed in less than a year, these are the types of things that voters are saying they saw happen in the Trump administration and now they're seeing the Biden administration strip those things away."

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, shakes hands briefly with President Donald Trump after he invited her on stage during a political rally in Battle Creek on Dec. 18, 2020.

Divisions within the party have been highlighted by recent decisions, including in Michigan, by local GOP parties to censure Republican members of Congress over their votes to impeach Trump and strip Republican Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments because of her inflammatory comments.

But McDaniel insisted members of the GOP "overwhelmingly ... (agree) with each other on more than we disagree with each other on."

McDaniel also used the appearance to repeatedly call for the reopening of schools that moved to virtual learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. Though McDaniel called out Democratic leaders for schools remaining closed, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has urged all school districts in the state to offer in-person instruction. 

McDaniel, who was re-elected as national GOP chair in January, said her focus right now is on winning back the House and Senate, both of which are controlled by Democrats. She said Trump is "committed" to help the party win back seats in the 2022 election: "You're seeing more and more Republicans recognize, we need to unite around how do we win back these majorities and stop Biden in his tracks."

McDaniel deflected questions about how "damaging" the Jan. 6 insurrection was to the GOP and whether Trump has engaged in any "self-reflection" on the attack. 

"There is no American, Republican or Democrat, who looks at that and sees our Capitol attacked and feels good," she said. "I think there’s a lot of self-reflection that has to go on across the whole country.”

"I will denounce extreme elements that pretend to be Republican and say, 'We do not want you in our party," McDaniel said, calling on Democrats "to do the same with antifa and groups that are anti-Semitic."

She added that proponents of QAnon, a pro-Trump internet conspiracy theory, "are not welcome in our party."


Twitter: @JGrzelewski