RNC chief on Ramaswamy criticism: 'He's at 4 percent. He needs a headline'

Ronna McDANIEL 2023

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ronna McDaniel dismissed GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy’s recent knocks against the party, arguing he “needs a headline” to make up for low polling.  

“Listen, he’s at — he’s at 4 percent. He needs a headline,” McDaniel told Fox Business anchor Stuart Varney.

Ramaswamy was among the candidates who participated in Wednesday night’s third Republican primary debate. On stage, he called Republicans the “party of losers” and argued the party has seen disappointing election results since McDaniel became the chair of the RNC in 2017.

He said the party was “trounced” in Tuesday night’s off-year elections, when conservatives lost the Kentucky governor’s race, ceded control of Virginia’s General Assembly, and failed to defeat a constitutional change protecting abortion access.

“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,” Ramaswamy said. 

McDaniel on Thursday touted the party’s successes and took another swipe at the presidential hopeful over his comments about Tuesday’s races. 

“Now, the RNC doesn’t do state races. We’re a federal committee, so we weren’t involved in those races on Tuesday.  I know Vivek’s kind of newer to the party. He voted for Obama, so he may not know that,” McDaniel said. 

McDaniel’s time atop the RNC has largely coincided with former President Trump’s time as the party’s leader. She was reelected early this year, despite overseeing Trump’s 2020 loss for President Biden.

Her quip about Ramaswamy’s polling around 4 percent comes as the non-Trump candidates struggle to make up ground Trump, the clear frontrunner. FiveThirtyEight’s tracker of polling averages puts Ramaswamy at around 5 percent as of Thursday, while Trump sits comfortably at roughly 57 percent. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley are battling for second place.

The RNC recently will hold a fourth debate in December hosted by NewsNation, and upped its qualification criteria. In addition to meeting new donor thresholds, candidates will now need to be at 6 percent or higher in two national polls, or at 6 percent in one early state poll from two separate “carve out” states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — in order to participate.

Eight candidates were on stage at the first debate in Milwaukee back in August, and just seven made the second event in Simi Valley, Calif. Five took part in Wednesday night’s debate.

Trump skeptics in the GOP are hopeful the field will narrow fairly quickly so anti-Trump Republicans can rally around an alternative candidate, rather than having their votes split.

On CNN on Wednesday, McDaniel said the “infighting” along the way was hurting the GOP. 

“This Republican-on-Republican infighting — I’m not running for president, so I’m not in this primary — isn’t helping our party,” McDaniel said. “We lost races in 2022 because of vitriol within our party. We need every Republican and then some to win elections.”

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