Former President Donald Trump has given his blessing to Michael Whatley, the North Carolina Republican Party chairman who has been nominated to take over the Republican National Committee after reports that current chair Ronna McDaniel is stepping down amid rising criticism, a GOP operative familiar with the situation told POLITICO.
“Trump’s endorsement of Whatley formally cements his push to see a change atop the committee after weeks of reports that he had grown frustrated with McDaniel,” the outlet added on Monday.
In addition to endorsing Whatley, the former president will also back Lara Trump, his daughter-in-law, for the position of co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. Lara Trump has been a vocal advocate for the former president and was even briefly considered as a potential candidate for the North Carolina Senate during the 2022 campaign.
The endorsement doesn’t guarantee that either Whatley or Lara Trump will immediately assume those positions. The committee will need to conduct a vote among its members, which is expected to happen shortly after the South Carolina primary on Feb. 24, when McDaniel is likely to step down. However, that’s likely to be just a formality, as party members are expected to align with the preferences of the presidential nominee.
As part of his plan to reorganize the Republican National Committee, Trump will appoint Chris LaCivita as the Republican National Committee’s chief operating officer, according to a GOP operative speaking on condition of anonymity. LaCivita will continue to serve as co-campaign manager of the Trump campaign. The staffing adjustments will come into effect once a new chair assumes office, POLITICO reported.
“The Republican National Committee MUST be a good partner in the Presidential election. It must do the work we expect from the national Party and do it flawlessly,” Trump noted in a statement. “That means helping to ensure fair and transparent elections across the country, getting out the vote everywhere — even in parts of the country where it won’t be easy — and working with my campaign, as the Republican presumptive nominee for President, to win this election and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
The outlet adds:
Trump’s pick of Whatley was made, in part, because of the North Carolinians’ focus on one of the former president’s pet causes: baseless allegations of election fraud. Whatley has argued that elections are prone to fraud. He has also defended Trump over his involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege, stressing that it was the rioters — not the then president — who were to blame.
Whatley also pushed to censure then Sen. Richard Burr for his decision to vote for Trump’s second impeachment.
The changes stem from conversations between Trump and his advisers over the last few weeks about the future of the Republican National Committee.
In his new position, LaCivita will divide his time between Trump headquarters in Palm Beach, Florida, and the Republican National Committee offices in Washington, D.C. LaCivita, previously a Virginia GOP executive director who advised the Republican National Committee during the 2016 election, will prioritize directing the committee’s efforts toward battleground states.
For months, GOP critics have blasted McDaniel after successive election cycles when the party underperformed and did not meet expectations. In November, she defended herself after being grilled by Fox News host Laura Ingraham following another round of disastrous elections.
During the Republican presidential primary debate that month in Miami, for instance, then-candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said she needed to step aside.
“We’ve become a party of losers at the end of the day,” the candidate said.
The Republican National Committee boss was prepared for the questions as she spoke to Ingraham.
“Vivek and others are saying that under your leadership, Republicans have lost election after election, and positing the question, why should you retain your job given the track record of the party under your leadership?” the host said. “And to that, what do you say?”
McDaniel danced around the question by saying she was going to “continue to focus on Joe Biden and Democrats” before Ingraham interrupted her.
“All that, all that you just said, I couldn’t agree with more,” the host said. “I know you believe in accountability. You talk about it all the time.”
“Listen, when Vivek didn’t vote in 2016, I was leading Michigan to the first [Republican presidential election] win in history in 30 years. In 2018, we defied the odds. We got three senators, people like Josh Hawley that allowed President Trump to build the largest conservative majority on the Supreme Court. In 2022, the Republican National Committee, which is a turnout machine, right? We’re not the messengers. We don’t create the messages for the campaigns,” McDaniel said.
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Author: Jon Dougherty
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