RNC Chair: If Republicans Want to Win, ‘We Can’t Be Silent on Life’
After last Tuesday’s dismal GOP election results, everyone is looking for a Republican to blame. The usual target is not always the right one, as Vivek Ramaswamy’s crusade against RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel shows. She’s a “losing leader,” he’s insisted over the last several days, even starting a petition to oust the recently reelected party boss. “Where is the accountability for years of losing?” the young entrepreneur wanted to know. Frankly it belongs here: with conservatives who refuse to fight for conservative values.
“It’s time to stop the culture of surrender…” Ramaswamy insisted. “Resign, Ronna!” The RNC chair, who’s used to being the scapegoat when the party doesn’t perform to expectations, wasn’t ruffled. “Last I checked,” she told CNN’s “State of the Union,” “I wasn’t running for president. He’s at 4% [in the presidential primary polls]. He’s looking for headlines.”
Republicans, McDaniel argued, need to be focused on taking on Joe Biden — not each other. And one way they’ve really fallen short is on core issues, like abortion.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins couldn’t agree more. “I continue to emphasize the need for pro-life candidates to go on the offense for protecting the unborn, especially when the Democrats have staked out the extreme position of abortion until birth with zero restrictions,” he told McDaniel on Wednesday’s “Washington Watch.” And while some candidates ran from the issue, the party’s leadership, Perkins pointed out, is not.
“We … have to define ourselves before the Democrats define us,” Ronna explained on NBC. “And this is my number one message. If you’re digging yourself out of a hole, you’re going to lose. But if you go on TV and you say to the American people, ‘Listen, we all are passionate about this issue and it’s confusing right now, but in a time of consensus, can’t we agree on reasonable limitations at 15 weeks when a baby feels pain?’”
She reiterated that position to Perkins, insisting, “We shouldn’t be silent. Listen, we’re proud to be a party that stands for the unborn. And I think coming out of Roe, after 50 years of … people not having to navigate this issue, it’s really important that we define ourselves before the Democrats do. Let’s talk about pregnancy [care] centers. Let’s talk about getting rid of cumbersome regulation to adoption. But let’s also put the Democrats on the defense because they stand for late-term abortion. They stand for gender-selection abortion.”
It’s time to say to them, McDaniel urged, “‘Won’t you agree that when a baby feels pain, when a baby can physically feel its life being taken away from them, that that is a bridge too far?’ And they won’t meet us even there. They are the extreme on this issue. And when you say that to the voters, we win.”
Of course, one of the GOP’s other major shortcomings in the 2023 elections is that the RNC didn’t spend enough on commercials or do enough messaging on the life issue to combat the 24/7 lies on abortion from the Left. But that’s not the RNC’s job, Ronna tried to clarify.
“There’s a miscommunication. The RNC doesn’t do TV [ads]. We’re a ground game. … We are the turnout machine. We’re out there pushing your vote. But we don’t do the messaging for the candidate. [They use] their general consultant and their pollster to determine how they’re going to identify and communicate to voters.
“I say this this way: We build the road. All the cars drive on it, but the cars don’t always take our directions. And so we’re going to give them the best advice. But they need us to be doing things like voter registration and turn out the vote. And if you look at Virginia and even Kentucky this week, more Republicans turned out than Democrats. So I don’t think it’s a turnout issue. I think it’s a messaging issue. And we’ve got to get this right before 2024 — and it’s really going to be up to candidates to be able to define themselves on this issue.”
Another unfortunate reality is the discrepancy in fundraising. “Our candidates were outspent by nine times on abortion messaging,” McDaniel pointed out. “We’ve seen this across the country.” And unlike conservatives, “Democrats have an unlimited pot of money, right? They have Big Tech. They’ve got Hollywood. They have all these outside groups. They have Planned Parenthood. They’re absolutely mobilized and financed.”
But, she warned, “a lot of our candidates and consultants are afraid to tackle this issue” regardless. And until they start explaining where they stand compared to where their Democratic opponents do, this will continue to plague Republicans. “We will win, but you’ve got to put money behind it. You can’t [stake out your position] behind a paywall or on a phone call. You’ve got to put money defining yourself before the Democrats do, because they will … [say] things that are total lies. … And when a lie goes unanswered, it becomes truth.”
There’s also a lot more Americans can do, Perkins argued. The RNC does what it can, but when turnout is hovering in the 30-40% range, it leaves these races in the hands of the motivated. “We need to be turning out in every election and voting. And I want to challenge you Christians to turn out every time there’s something on the ballot. Because when you’ve got less than half of the population voting, your vote can actually have a greater impact if you show up…”
The stakes couldn’t be higher, McDaniel insisted. “The American family is at stake. How we identify as male and female is at stake. Our children are at stake. Our religious liberty is at stake. And Democrats, if they get their way… if they win the White House [and Congress], they will get rid of the filibuster, they will stack the Supreme Court, and they will fundamentally change the America we know and love. And that is what we are fighting for in 2024.”
From now until next November, Ronna pledged, “I will work alongside every single candidate, but Democrats have nothing to run on except for abortion, and they spent $350 million on it in 2022. They are going to use the same playbook in 2024, and our candidates need to get up to speed and be able to go on TV and articulate where we stand — because when we do, we win.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.