For years, the Republican National Committee has been closely aligned with Donald Trump. But with other candidates running against him in 2024, RNC members want neutrality.
DANA POINT, Calif. — The driving debate at last week’s. Republican National Committee meeting was one big question. Can the official party machinery really be neutral. In the 2024 GOP presidential primary? For years, the RNC has been closely tied. To former President Donald Trump’s political activities. But in the upcoming cycle. Several serious candidates outside of Trump are expected to enter the field.
Neutrality was front and center in the race for the chair, where on Friday, Rona McDaniel. Originally Trump’s pick for the role — won re-election to a fourth term at the helm of the RNC. Largely rebuilt under the former president. Trump’s third bid for the White House puts the RNC. At the center of a situation unprecedented in modern times.
A former president running. A contested major-party primary campaign.
Members at the RNC’s winter meeting here were wary of giving outside support to Trump. And McDaniel and his main challenger. Harmeet Dhillon — an RNC committeewoman from California and an attorney. Whose law firm has represented Trump in recent years — pledged to lead the party. As the primary season begins to heat up, in a neutral manner, according to RNC bylaws. But some weren’t so sure that would happen, especially in the case of McDaniel’s re-election.
“If you look at our rules, we can individually support whoever we want,” said Jonathan Barnett. An RNC committeeman in Arkansas who endorsed Dhillon. “The chair isn’t supposed to, but, I mean, it’s a joke. Because he got his job. He can act like he’s neutral, but look at the look.”
Needless to say, how the RNC handles itself in 2024 could affect the primaries. The team plays a key role in initial structuring, fundraising and debate. Dhillon told reporters last week that potential candidates have expressed concerns to him. About how the party could work with Trump on the ticket in 2024.
Calling Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis a “potential presidential candidate,” Dhillon said Friday. That he “has not spoken to him but has spoken to several others. And many of them have echoed concerns about party independence. And the primary process.”
“I think everybody in this room, in the front of the room. In front of the velvet rope, voted for President Trump twice,” he said. “But if the party is not treated as a neutral organization. And a level playing field for all presidential candidates. It further alienates our voters.” Trump did not explicitly endorse McDaniel for a fourth term. But his top political advisers were at the three-day RNC meeting. Before the event, the Associated Press reported that an adviser, Susie Wiles. Privately informed members that Trump still supported McDaniel. While she publicly defended McDaniel from a conservative media. Report that cast a negative light on RNC spending.
Regardless, some members expressed confidence that the RNC. Will conduct the upcoming primaries impartially. New Jersey GOP Chairman Bob Hugin said he didn’t see. It as “that big of an issue” in the race for the chair, because the candidates “made a big deal out of it.”
“Being the chair of a state party, if you’re not neutral, you can’t bring people together and be an honest party.” Said Hugin, who told TTN News Thursday that he was undecided about his vote for the chair.
Meanwhile, McDaniel allies expressed confidence that he would oversee a fair process.
“The RNC is committed to being completely neutral,” said Steve Scheffler. An RNC committeeman from Iowa and president of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. Which endorsed McDaniel, adding that he sees the 2024 primary as “a jump ball.” Interestingly, two down-ballot RNC candidates backed by Trump. North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley and Florida GOP Chairman Joe. Gruters — lost their bids for co-chair and treasurer on Friday.
Dhillon told reporters on Thursday. That he thinks it is “very problematic” for candidates. To accept endorsements from presidential candidates. Or potential candidates who need to be party neutral. In the same discussion, Dhillon quickly shot down. DeSantis’ comments calling for change in the party. Which many interpreted as an endorsement of Dhillon. He also declined to offer his personal position on Trump’s 2024 bid. “I think when a lot of headlines come out of here. ‘Trump-installed chairman wins re-election,’ I think there’s a reality. And there’s a perception,” Dhillon said.