RNC Winter Meeting: Republican Party Leaders Look to Defy History    ... 1 of 5 >
Jan. 31-Feb. 3, 2018 - Although conventional wisdom suggests Republicans could sustain significant losses in the 2018 mid-term elections, the Republican National Committee under the leadership of chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has built a strong financial and organizational base from which to contest the elections.  At the party's winter meeting in Washington, DC, held at the Washington Hilton, McDaniel touted the accomplishments of the Trump administration, the strong economy, and the work of the RNC (+).

McDaniel started by noting that, "Republicans delivered the biggest set of tax cuts in a generation."  She stated,

"Three million workers have received bonuses as a result, and today, millions of Americans have more take-home pay. Unemployment is at a 17-year low, 2.4 million new jobs have been created, job-killing regulations have been cut, our military is strong and veterans are being cared for. This President is making America Great Again."

"We at the RNC are ready," McDaniel declared, pointing to a ground game in 22 states, four million doors knocked, eight million phone calls made, thousands of trainings, and investments in digital and data work.  Just days ago the RNC raised $1.56 million online from a livestream during the President's State of the Union Address (+); this adds to the record $132.5 million the committee raised in 2017.  The RNC finished 2017 with $38.8 million in cash on hand and zero debt.  By contrast the DNC raised $65.9 million in 2017, finishing the year with $6.3 million in cash on hand and $6.1 million in debt.  As RNC Treasurer Tony Parker stated, "There is no substitute for strong national party leadership." 

There is no doubt that Republicans face a very difficult cycle.  At the grassroots level, progressive "resistance" is multifaceted and energized by antipathy to Trump.  Trump himself serves up an unending succession of controversies.  The Mueller investigation continues.  Democrats had much success in 2017, culminating in Doug Jones' defeat of Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate race in Alabama.  In Congress more than twice as many Republican as Democratic House members are retiring (+).  Considerable skepticism remains over the Republican tax reform.  Democrats are hoping for a "blue wave" comparable to what Republicans achieved in 2010. 

To prepare for the challenge of 2018, members of the RNC engaged in a slew of meetings, of standing committees, temporary committees, and in regional breakfasts.  There were also meetings of the state chairs and state executive directors.  In the general session on Feb. 2 members heard committee reports and also formally approved Todd Ricketts as the new finance chair to succeed Steve Wynn, who had resigned just days earlier amid charges of sexual harrassment.  Members heard from speakers including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, and Vice President Mike Pence.  And, on the evening of Feb. 1 members and guests lined up for the bus trip to Trump International Hotel to hear President Trump speak.

Looking towards 2020, two temporary committees met: the Committee on the Presidential Nominating Process and the Site Selection Committee for the 2020 national convention.  Both meetings were closed press.  In the former, among other matters, Wyoming Republicans made a case for a "Cowboy Compromise."  This committee plans a final discussion within three to four weeks and will present its recommendations to the Rules Committee by the second week of March.  For site selection, RFPs and documentation were sent in January to cities capable of hosting a national convention.  Responses are due from interested cities in early March.  Committee chair Ron Kaufman said he is encouraged what he has heard thus far. 

As important as the formal scheduled events are the networking and informal conversations that occur before and after the meetings, in hallways, and on the way to the next event.  Members and guests interact with each other and with RNC staff and other notables.  For example, David Bossie, who served as deputy campaign manager on Trump's 2016 campaign, Michael Glassner, executive director of Trump's 2020 campaign, and John Pence, deputy executive director of the 2020 campaign (and a nephew of the vice president), were among those in attendance at the winter meeting.