GOP’s McDaniel Defends Party on Abortion After Election Losses

(Bloomberg) -- Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel took aim at critics within her party following last week’s disappointing off-year election results, saying the GOP needs to stop the “circular firing squad” and focus on beating President Joe Biden.

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McDaniel’s comments on CNN’s State of the Union followed calls for her resignation, including from presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who said Saturday that it was time to “stop the culture of surrender and losing” in the party.

“Last I checked, I wasn’t running for president,” McDaniel said. “You know, he’s at 4%. He’s looking for headlines.”

The Ohio businessman is at 4.7% in the RealClearPolitics average of national Republican primary polls, down from a high of 8.1% in September.

McDaniel, who has become the longest-serving Republican party leader since the Civil War after former President Donald Trump made her his choice in 2017, is under increased scrutiny after a string of election losses.

Last Tuesday, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin lost his bid for Republican control of his state’s legislature, a Democratic governor won reelection in the deep-red state of Kentucky and voters in Ohio approved a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing a right to abortion.

It’s that last issue that is most worrying Republicans heading into the 2024 election, as Democrats have used anger over last year’s Supreme Court decision overturning abortion rights to mobilize voters in state and local races.

McDaniel said Republicans were outspent 9-to-1 on the abortion issue in Virginia and 3-to-1 in Ohio.

“We have to talk compassionately. We can’t attack women,” she told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “We also have to define ourselves before the Democrats define us. And this is my No. 1 message: if you’re digging yourself out of a hole, you’re going to lose.”

McDaniel wouldn’t criticize any specific Republican position on abortion, but expressed frustration at how her party’s candidates were talking about the issue. She suggested that too many Republicans failed to heed the RNC’s advice to “finish their sentences” on abortion by going on offense against Democrats on the issue.

“I am a suburban woman, I get this,” she said on CNN. “It’s up to the candidates if they take those suggestions. As I always say, if I’ve given my husband directions in the car, it doesn’t mean he’s going to take them, right?”

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