Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel used an Illinois GOP fundraiser Friday night to make a farewell speech of sorts as she prepares to step down from her party post later this month under pressure from former President Donald Trump.
McDaniel, who appeared at an event aimed at encouraging Republicans to vote early and by mail, made no mention of the “Bank Your Vote” program, which he launched despite criticism from Trump and other GOP leaders that the app, which Democrats have used successfully, was rife with fraud. former president or his imminent departure as RNC chairman.
He exhorted the crowd of more than 700 people in the ballroom of the Westin O’Hare hotel in Rosemont to pledge to vote early, avoid an Election Day vote deficit and save the party the expense of forcing votes in the final days of the campaign. .
“Why are you depositing your vote in the bank? “As a party, we should start taking advantage of mail and early voting,” he said. “Please raise your hand and pledge to vote early this election. Guys, we have to do this.”
Explaining that Michigan, where he is the state party chairman, voted Republican for president in 2016 for the first time in decades after being told the state was unwinnable, McDaniel said, “We turned it red, you can do it here too.”
Democrats in Illinois have a long history of organizing successful early voting and mail-in voting, causing the state’s declining Republican Party to run into a deficit on Election Day. In a statement, the state’s Democratic Party called the RNC’s effort “ballot hypocrisy” and noted its support for legal efforts to block the counting of mail-in ballots sent after or before Election Day.
McDaniel’s appearance followed a meeting with Trump on Monday at his Mar-a-Lago Florida estate. He later called her “my friend” but said changes at the RNC would be made after the South Carolina primary on Feb. 24.
Serving her fourth two-year term as RNC chair, McDaniel had spent her tenure trying to please Trump, most notably even dropping her maiden name, Romney. He is the nephew of U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, Trump’s nemesis in the Republican Party.
He also moved to transform an established establishment party organization into one more reflective of Trump, supporting him even as he claimed the 2020 election was stolen.
But party fundraising has slowed, and the GOP’s performance has not been stellar as Democrats took control of the White House and Congress in 2020 and Republicans underperformed in the 2022 midterm elections.
The message from McDaniel, who attended the first celebration of the state party’s “Bank Your Vote” program, was a sharp reversal in the GOP strategy of encouraging voters to vote on Election Day and avoid early voting.
The event’s keynote speaker, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy, appeared to be on pace with the evening’s message, applauding loudly: “I believe we should have an Election Day, not an election month.”
Kennedy also made the only reference to McDaniel’s departure.
“He’s a rock star. She is a gorgeous girl adorned with stars. “It was one of the best chairs we’ve ever had, and I want to thank him for that,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy also did not mention Trump but offered harsh criticism of President Joe Biden and Democrats while heralding the policy successes of Republicans during his time as president.
“I believe Republicans are not perfect, but the other side is crazy,” he said. “The American people do not deserve to be governed by deeply weird, hopelessly woke people who hate George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Seuss, and Mr. Potato Head.”
“The Biden administration sucks,” Kennedy said. “President Biden was extraordinarily off-kilter. “He’s been pushing a door that clearly says ‘pull’ for three years.”