Following another disappointing election for Republicans, Vivek Ramaswamy made waves during the third Republican presidential debate. Specifically, he called for RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel to resign. It was a tense moment, with McDaniel reportedly furious as she sat on the front row of the debate hall while one of her own party candidates called for her job.
Ramaswamy quickly moved to further capitalize on the moment, posting a clip on his social media accounts.
I’m sick and tired of this Republican Establishment that has made us a party of losers. Where is the accountability for years of losing: 2018, 2020, 2022 and now last night? I’m calling on @GOPChairwoman to resign tonight. pic.twitter.com/8hxVqWGlwL— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) November 9, 2023
While McDaniel recently received praise from Donald Trump, one of her long-time allies, the overall mood of the Republican electorate has been sharply negative towards the chairwoman. Most of the angst stems from a perception that the RNC has not been doing enough to win elections, with many pointing to a string of disappointing results spanning between 2018 and 2023.
Given the fire she’s been under, it was surprising to see McDaniel actually respond to Ramaswamy, but that’s exactly what she did. While appearing on Fox News Business with Stuart Varney, the chairwoman took some very personal shots.
After denying that Ramaswamy confronted her after the debate, something that NBC News had suggested in its post-event coverage, she had this to say.
You know, listen, he’s at 4%, he needs a headline. I’m going to say what I’ve been saying to the Republicans all along, our headlines should be about Joe Biden, fentanyl, the border, crime, and terrible things that are happening in this country that the American people are looking to our party for solutions, but I also will stand by my record as RNC chair.
I am the one who delivered Michigan for the first time in 30 years when I was Michigan chair. He — we just won back the House under my leadership. And I’ll add one other thing. In 2022, the RNC turned out four million more Republicans and we would have won the electoral college based on that turnout. We don’t do the messaging, that’s a fact, and our candidates have lost their messaging on abortion.
For context, McDaniel’s mention of winning Michigan is in relation to 2016. Republicans have not won Michigan (in any capacity) since she has taken over the RNC, and while the GOP did win back the House in 2022, they did so with an incredibly lackluster performance that left them with just a four-seat majority.
Projections prior to the election suggested that the majority could have been over 20 seats, and regarding the U.S. Senate, Republicans actually lost seats despite being projected to win it comfortably. Overall, the GOP has either lost or underperformed in every major election since McDaniel took power. She is now in her fourth term.
Her answer for that in this interview was to say that the RNC is a federal committee and “doesn’t do state races.” That would lead to questions of why they aren’t involved in important “state races,” given all elections are held at the state level. There is no legal mechanism that prevents the RNC from helping to fund ads or get-out-the-vote mechanisms at the state level.
McDaniel continued by slamming Ramaswamy again, claiming that he voted for Barack Obama and thus doesn’t know how the RNC works.
In Virginia, the Democrats spent $16 million on abortion ads, Republicans did not respond. In Kentucky, Democrats spent millions and millions on abortion ads and we did not respond. Now, the RNC doesn’t do state races, we’re a federal committee, so we weren’t involved in those races, I know Vivek’s newer to the party, he voted for Obama so he may not know that, but this is something we’re going to have to get right as a party.
I’m not sure what the strategy is here. Yes, McDaniel was attacked, but what is to be gained by the RNC chairwoman responding in kind this way? This is a situation where I think someone in that position of power has to laugh it off and take the high road.
Unfortunately, this type of dysfunction within the Republican Party runs deep. The leadership is as fragmented as the base of the party is. None of this is going to help the GOP win in 2024, and that’s the real tragedy here.