Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy made headlines last Wednesday during the third GOP presidential debate by taking direct aim at the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, calling on the latter to resign. The upstart candidate also blasted the RNC for selecting NBC News to host that night’s debate and characterized the Republican Party as one of losers under McDaniel’s leadership.
Ramaswamy’s concerns didn’t go unnoticed, including by some members of the GOP who told the Daily Caller they agreed with his criticism on the direction of the debates and the RNC’s leadership.
“I would be remiss, I would be lying to you if I haven’t seen literally hundreds of people come through my mailbox and tag me demanding [McDaniel’s] resignation. I think [Ramaswamy] is speaking for a lot of people. He’s the only one who was bold enough to say what he has seen from the base and the base is our primary voters,” Tyler Bowyer, an Arizona national committeeman, told the Daily Caller.
During last Wednesday’s debate, which was co-hosted in addition to NBC News by Salem Radio News and the Republican Jewish Coalition, moderator Lester Holt asked each candidate why they should be the nominee, rather than the front runner, former President Donald Trump. Ramaswamy used his response to open verbal fire on the leadership of his own party.
“Since Ronna McDaniel took over as chairwoman of the RNC in 2017, we have lost 2018, 2020, 2022 – no red wave … We got trounced last night in 2023. And I think that we have to have accountability in our party,” Ramaswamy began, adding that he would cede his time on the stage to McDaniel if she would like to resign from her post.
“Think about who’s moderating this debate, this should be Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan, Elon Musk. We’d have ten times the viewership, asking questions the GOP primary voters actually care about and bringing in more people to our party. We got Kristen Welker here, you think the Democrats would actually hire Greg Gutfeld to host a Democratic debate?” Ramaswamy asked.
“The fact of the matter, and Kristen I’m gonna use this time cause this is actually about you and the media and the corrupt media establishment, ask you the Trump-Russia collusion hoax that you pushed on this network for years — was that real? Or was that Hillary Clinton made up disinformation? Answer the question. Go,” he continued.
Following the debate, the Daily Caller reached out to the several RNC national committee members as well as RNC state chairmen for their reactions. The state leaders who the Daily Caller originally spoke to were split in their views on McDaniel, with some backing the presidential candidate’s call out while others found his comments “inappropriate” and disappointing.
“I think he was on point with a lot of things that he said about the debate and the host of the debate, and I think he was in he was communicating what a lot of primary voters have been saying. And the problem, I don’t know if the problem is the chairwoman of the party, but there’s frustration in our party with the fact that we keep losing big races,” Evan Power, vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, told the Daily Caller.
But even though Ramaswamy’s statement garnered some support, other members of the RNC apparatus rushed to defend their leader as well as the structure of the primary presidential debates.
The Daily Caller reached out to the RNC communications team on Thursday regarding support amongst its own members for Ramaswamy’s comments that criticized the organization and McDaniel. About two hours before the deadline that the Daily Caller provided the RNC, five RNC national committee members and RNC state chairmen reached out to provide their support for McDaniel and the organization’s debate structure. The RNC communication team provided the Daily Caller with three additional comments from RNC state chairmen.
“We had some RNC members reach out as well when they heard through the grapevine that you were talking to other folks, so I’m passing along some quotes from them as well,” Anna Kelly, the RNC’s national press secretary, told the Daily Caller.
“The comments from Vivek last night were unfair. Ronna is doing an amazing job uniting our party and working to make [President] Joe Biden a one-term president. She is the exact right person to chair the committee in this moment.” Nevada GOP Chairman Michael J. McDonald said in a statement provided to the Daily Caller.
“No one fights harder to get Republicans elected all over this country than Chairman McDaniel,” California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement to the Daily Caller.
“The infrastructure she has built and implemented is the strongest in our party’s history, including early and unprecedented investments into California. She’s the leader we need to help Republicans take back the White House, flip the Senate and hold the House next year.”
Ramaswamy’s comments garnered support from some elected Republicans too, with some congressmembers echoing the presidential candidate’s sentiments and criticizing McDaniel, who was elected to her fourth two-year term in January.
“We need a new RNC Chair,” Florida Republican Rep. Anna Paulina Luna tweeted. “I’ve been saying this for a while. We need someone who understands grassroots activism not just how to fundraise. I’m sure she’s a nice lady but I want to win!”
“I think I think Ramaswamy made a good point with that, like he said, we should have Elon Musk, Joe Rogan and Tucker Carlson moderating the debate,” Jason Thompson, Georgia’s national committeeman, told the Daily Caller in support of Ramaswamy’s criticism of NBC hosting the debate.
“And that was I think what everybody had in mind, that type of debate and the moderators, when we thought about ‘let’s do our own debates and pull out of the Presidential Commission on debates.’ It seems it is more of the same as before.”
McDaniel responded to Ramaswamy’s criticism herself, saying that the White House hopeful is just “looking for headlines.” McDaniel also claimed in her response to Ramaswamy that he voted for Barack Obama, though the 2024 presidential candidate’s campaign website says he voted for a libertarian candidate in 2004 and did not vote in his 20s.
Ronna McDaniel fires back at Vivek Ramaswamy after he called for her job: "He's at 4 percent. He needs a headline."
She goes on to point out that Vivek is "kinda new to the party. He voted for Obama." pic.twitter.com/e642Pjrc22
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 9, 2023
“Last I checked, I wasn’t running for president,” McDaniel said in an interview with CNN. “He’s at 4%, he’s looking for headlines.”
Despite the backlash and the attention Ramaswamy may have garnered, McDaniel still has plenty of support within the RNC.
“I was disappointed [with Ramaswamy’s statement],” North Carolina RNC Chairman Michael Whatley told the Daily Caller.
“What the RNC is trying to do is to give every one of these candidates an opportunity to communicate their message out to the American people. Chairwoman McDaniel has done a really good job of putting these debates together and making sure that we’re providing that equal even playing field for all candidates.”
Why It Matters
Ramaswamy’s call for McDaniel’s resignation and criticism of the RNC’s leadership reveal a growing divide within the GOP. It’s time for a change, and we need leaders who understand the grassroots and can win elections. The RNC’s debate structure and media choices show they’re out of touch with the base.
We need moderators like Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan, and Elon Musk who can ask questions that matter to GOP voters and bring in new supporters. The party’s recent losses under McDaniel’s leadership prove that it’s time for accountability.
We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. Let’s unite behind a strong leader who can help us take back the White House and Congress.
As our loyal readers, we encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions on this issue. Let your voice be heard and join the discussion below.
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