The cash-flush Republican National Committee added $1.56 million to its war chest with a simple (and briefly controversial) gimmick — offering donors a chance to see their names flit across “the Official Donald Trump for President live stream” during the State of the Union.
“We’re connecting with grass roots in ways we never thought possible,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told committee members at the end of their winter meeting, where she shared the news.
Reports of record-breaking cash totals, and of a 2-to-1 fundraising advantage over the Democratic National Committee that has become the GOP’s favorite piece of data, dominated a meeting notable for its lack of conflicts. Outside the Hilton Washington ballrooms where the meeting took place, Republicans were consumed with intrigue over the ongoing probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election; on Monday, the New York Times published at op-ed by Washington political strategist Juleanna Glover saying that “disaffected Republicans are wondering whether, if they came up with a truly great candidate, they could jump-start a new party.”
The men and women of the RNC had no time for that. The replacement of scandalized finance chair Steve Wynn was an afterthought; on Friday, as was expected, Todd Ricketts replaced Wynn after a unanimous vote by members. (McDaniel reportedly told members that Wynn had been “like family,” remarks not repeated in the open-press sessions, where the casino and hotel mogul was never mentioned.) Talk of a challenge to Trump was less than an afterthought as the members working on the party’s 2020 nominating rules discussed changes that would reward states that hold primaries over states that hold caucuses or conventions — an increasingly rare form of delegate selection that, in 2016, slowed Trump’s progress toward the nomination.
The rest of McDaniel’s remarks portrayed a party girded for battle against “energized” Democrats, though “history tells us that the party in power loses seats in midterms.” McDaniel suggested that the opposition had become too unhinged to compete effectively, succumbing to “hatred” that would haunt them if the economy continued growing and voters became more optimistic.
“They refused to stand for a 12-year-old boy who puts flags on the graves of our veterans,” McDaniel said of Democrats during the State of the Union. “They hate this president more than they love this country.”