As RNC Reelects McDaniel, Perkins Encourages GOP to ‘Not Shrink Back’ from Social Issues
On Friday, the Republican National Committee (RNC) reelected Ronna McDaniel to a fourth term as party chair at their winter meeting in Dana Point, Calif. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who previously endorsed McDaniel for chair, spoke Thursday at the meeting and encouraged the committee members to stand firmly in support of the “values and ideals of faith, family, and freedom,” arguing that millions of Bible-believing evangelical voters reliably vote for policies over personalities.
“With all of us united, the Democrats are going to hear from us in 2024,” McDaniels said after the results were announced.
Supporters of McDaniel pointed to her steady hand as RNC head and her ability to message consistently, fundraise effectively, and unite different factions of the party. In the end, she won 111 committee member votes, easily enough to secure the chairmanship.
The only other candidate who mustered a notable challenge to McDaniel was Harmeet Dhillon, head of the Republican National Lawyers Association, garnering 51 votes. In the eyes of many social conservatives, Dhillon’s connections and past actions proved to be controversial. In her past work as an attorney, she represented pro-life activist David Daleiden and detransition activist Chloe Cole, among other high-profile conservatives. Conversely, she helped to facilitate a “transgender-identifying individual to official Republican planning and strategy events” and has sent mixed signals on her position on same-sex marriage.
During his address to the RNC Thursday, Perkins made it clear that the Republican Party cannot afford to muddle its messaging on social issues and must stand firm on the socially conservative principles that undergird the current party platform.
“If the Republican party wants to continue building a winning, governing coalition, it must not — it cannot — go silent or walk away from the values and ideals of faith, family, and freedom it has championed for decades,” he said.
Perkins noted how Republican strategists advised candidates to steer clear of discussing abortion ahead of the 2022 midterms, fearing that the issue favored Democrats who were newly energized after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“You don’t win playing defense,” he countered, pointing to polling showing that “a majority of Americans are closer to our position than that of the Democrats — 60% agree there should be a line at 15 weeks when a baby feels pain.”
Perkins highlighted 11 outspokenly pro-life GOP governors who won reelection in the 2022 midterms after signing pro-life legislation during their previous terms, all of whom “were confident in their position and leaned into the media hype and not away from it.”
Referring to midterm results that were seen as disappointing in the eyes of many Republicans, he noted that some “blamed the RNC. … Let me say that the election outcome would have been horrible if Ronna and the RNC had not stepped in to stop the stampede of those spooked by the media and the Left. The RNC went on the offensive, giving candidates tested talking points that turned the tables on the Democrats and showed the American people who the extremists really were.”
Perkins further explained that “SAGE Cons” (Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservatives) make up 15% of the voting population and consistently turn out for elections at 97% or above.
“You can’t win a nationwide election with just SAGE Cons, but you can’t win without them,” he emphasized.
Perkins went on to observe that the GOP’s “strong, solid, pro-faith, pro-America platform” is key to electoral success. “Some might say people don’t pay attention to the party platforms. People may not, but SAGECons do.” He noted that Family Research Council’s platform comparison video showing the differences between the two party’s platforms has been seen “over a million times.”
“What the party stands for matters,” he underscored. “Now is not the time to shrink back, go silent, or go home.”
“This is a party of hope, of opportunity, of the future,” Perkins concluded. “A party that is not afraid of the truth but instead built on truth. The truth that ‘All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.