Interview with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel
EDITOR'S NOTE: Boris Epshteyn formerly served as a Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign and served in the White House as Special Assistant to The President and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations.
WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) -
BORIS: We are here with Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel of the Republican National Committee. Thank you so much for joining us.
RONNA MCDANIEL: Thanks for having me. It’s great to see you, Boris.
BORIS: It’s great to see you, too. So let’s dive right in, the big news this week has been the special election in Alabama. The primary, you had Roy Moore, Judge Moore, defeat the incumbent Luther Strange by about 10 points. What do you see as the impact on that moving forward with the general in Alabama and in 2018 in the midterms?
RONNA MCDANIEL: We’re going to keep that seat. The RNC is going to work with the Moore campaign. We want him to be the next senator from Alabama and we have this. You have primaries where ideas are put forward, you have different candidates, and its passionate and they come out and then in the end, our purpose unites us. And as Republicans we know what we need to get done. We know that we need to support President Trump and his agenda, and that’s only going to be done if we have a Republican senator from Alabama.
BORIS: Do you think this result should worry some of the incumbents who may have a primary challenger in 2018?
RONNA MCDANIEL: I think, as an incumbent you should always be ready for a challenger. I think that’s something that’s part of the makeup of any campaign you got to be ready for that. It charges you too, for the general, too. It’s always good to go out and campaign and earn your keep and share your ideas with your voters. We’re ready to expand our majority in the Senate we’ve got the best map that we’ve had in 70 years, and there’s lots of opportunities to pick up seats and bring some more Republican senators to Washington.
BORIS: On 2018, the midterms, they seem like they’re far away but really just around the corner i’m sure you’re focused on them. Without giving away the playbook, what are you doing to prepare for the midterms?
RONNA MCDANIEL: So we’re always thinking about the midterms, obviously we want to give President Trump a bigger majority in the Senate. We want to maintain that majority in the House which historically is hard to do in the midterms when you rule the white House. From an RNC perspective, we’re raising record money, we’re already investing it in those battleground states with our data and our ground game, and at the end of the day, it’s who turns out their voters and that’s what we’re focusing on.
BORIS: You mention history. 1982, 2 years after Ronald Reagan, Democrats gained 27 seats, in 1994 2 years after Bill Clinton was elected, Republicans gained 53 seats. Ronald Reagan it was the economy, for Clinton it was the failure on what do you think the impact of what’s going on in Congress will be on the midterms?
RONNA MCDANIEL: I think we have to have some accomplishments to run on. The president is doing great. obviously he’s delivered on deregulation, on our national security, on better trade deals on energy policy. Everything the president’s done are things that he ran on but Congress has to have some wins because they’re the ones up in 2018 and our voters are going to hold us accountable. So tax reform is key. We always want to keep pushing repeal and replace. At the end of the day though we’re going to put the best candidates forward, we’re going to have the best message, and we’re going to have best ground game and get out the vote.
BORIS: Let’s talk specifically about healthcare and tax reform. We saw this week another attempt at health care reform. Tax reform, the president is rolling out his plan this week. What do you see as the biggest keys to victory in 2018, but also some of the other elections, the VA gubernatorial coming up this year, some of the other elections coming up between now and then as well.
RONNA MCDANIEL: I think tax reform’s key. I think there’s been 4 legs to the stool of economic recovery because we saw such anemic recovery under President Obama. One is deregulation the president has already delivered on that, energy independence, keystone and the Dakota pipelines, you’ve seen better trade deals, we’re already renegotiating NAFTA and 4th is tax reform. Cutting taxes for the middle class, making our corporate tax rates competitive and kickstarting our economy so that we are actually seeing growth that this country needs to bring jobs and raise wages.
BORIS: What worries you the most going into the rest of this year and going into the midterms in 2018?
RONNA MCDANIEL: You know, I’m not worried. I’m very optimistic. President Trump has brought a change to Washington and you are seeing consumer confidence up. You are seeing unemployment down. A million new jobs. Things are heading on the right path. I want to make sure we give him majorities to work with for the final two years of his first term to make sure he can accomplish all the things that he ran on.
BORIS: Let’s talk about the Senate specifically. There are some out there who are saying, well, Republicans could be in danger of losing the House and losing the Senate. We talked a bit about the House and they keys to 2018. What are the keys for the Senate? What races are you looking at specifically?
RONNA MCDANIEL: So there are ten states that President Trump won where you have Democrat incumbent Senators. There are real opportunities to pick up seats in those states - Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Montana. There is a slew of states, my home state of Michigan. We’ve got to put a ground game in place. We’ve got to recruit good candidates and we have to turn out our vote. I think we can expand that map and then we are going to have some challenges in Arizona and Nevada so we need to hold those seats. I think the Senate map looks very favorable to expand our majority.
BORIS: And as we saw on healthcare, it’s necessary to expand to get beyond the really razor thin margins that we’re seeing, right?
RONNA MCDANIEL: You know, I hear. I understand the voters are frustrated. They are saying we sent you to Washington. You have the majorities. Get it done. And I say, stick with us. Do not walk away. We need a bigger majority to get things done. Fifty-two is just not a big enough margin. You’re always going to have two or three that are going to step away, that aren;t going to be in lock step. We need a bigger majority. The most we’ve ever had is fifty-five. This is an opportunity to really get the best majority of Republicans have ever had and make meaningful changes that will make people’s lives better.
BORIS: Let’s talk a little about your job. You’re the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee but right now the president is the head of the party, right? Because
RONNA MCDANIEL: Correct
BORIS: We have a Republican president. What is that interplay like? What is that relationship like between you and the president?
RONNA MCDANIEL: Well, I was so honored to win Michigan for President Trump for the first time since 1988 and because of the relationship we developed during that campaign he gave me the privilege of running the RNC or asking me to run the RNC and we work so well together. Our teams at the White House and our teams at the RNC were in lock step supporting our president who is the head of the Republican party.
BORIS: Thank you so much. Thanks for joining us.
RONNA MCDANIEL: Thanks for having me.