RNC chairman to step down under pressure from Trump, says report

Ronna McDaniel
Mr Trump and Ms McDaniel had seen eye to eye – until recent months - AP Photo

Ronna McDaniel, the chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), has reportedly told Donald Trump she plans to step down later this month.

After weeks of speculation about Ms McDaniel’s future, and comments in recent days from the former president that he thought it was time for a shake-up at the top of the RNC, she is said to have told Mr Trump she will leave after the South Carolina primary on Feb 24.

Ms McDaniel, 50, a niece of Republican senator Mitt Romney, had been selected for the job by Mr Trump after his win in 2016. At the time, she was chairman of the Michigan Republican Party and was a delegate for Mr Trump at that year’s convention.

Though she and Mr Trump had seen eye to eye for much of his political career, in recent months reports emerged that he was growing unhappy with her in the job she had held since 2017.

Ronna McDaniel
Ms McDaniel is the niece of Republican Mitt Romney - AP Photo

As he pressed his campaign for second term in the White House, he let it be known that he wanted to replace her.
Mr Trump, 77, said in a recent post on social media Ms McDaniel was “a friend” but added: “Ronna is now Head of the RNC, and I’ll be making a decision the day after the South Carolina Primary as to my recommendations for RNC Growth.”

Earlier this week in an interview with Newsmax, he was asked if she was going to stand down.

“Well, I think she knows that,” Mr Trump said. “I think she understands that.”

It was later reported he had met with her at his Florida estate at Mar-a-Lago to discuss her future. On Tuesday evening, The New York Times said she told Mr Trump she would stand aside shortly.

It was also reported Mr Trump wanted to promote Michael Whatley, the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, as her replacement. Such a move will require an election by the RNC.

Michael Whatley
Michael Whatley is the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party and general counsel for the Republican National Committee - Al Drago/Bloomberg

It comes days after Mike Reed, the RNC chief of staff, announced he was to step down from his role later this month.

Mr Trump had apparently been upset that Ms McDaniel had organised a series of Republican Party debates as part of the primary process. Her position was made more difficult because while the RNC chairman is supposed to play a neutral role, Mr Trump demanded utter loyalty.

Ms McDaniel also faced criticism over her handling of the RNC’s fundraising efforts. The RNC ended 2023 with just $8 million in cash on hand, less than half as much as the Democrats.

At a debate in November, Ms McDaniel was personally attacked by candidate and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

“We have to have accountability in our party. For that matter, Ronna, if you want to come on stage tonight and look the GOP voters in the eye and tell them you resign, I will turn over, yield my time to you,” he said.

The next day Ms McDaniel hit back on Fox Business Network.

“He’s at 4 per cent,” she said. “He needs a headline.”