A Michigan GOP View Of The Presidential Contest

Download Audio
Ronna Romney McDaniel is Michigan's Republican National Committeewoman. Robin Young spoke with her at Avalon International Breads in Detroit. (Robin Young)
Ronna Romney McDaniel is Michigan's Republican National Committeewoman. Robin Young spoke with her at Avalon International Breads in Detroit. (Robin Young)

Michigan's Republican National Committeewoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, Mitt Romney's niece, talks with Here & Now's Robin Young about Michigan's role in the calendar, the tenor of the campaign debate and why she believes any Republican nominee would be better than a Democrat.

Interview Highlights: Ronna Romney McDaniel

What was it like to be sitting in the Republican debate last week when Donald Trump discussed his 'manhood'?

“Well, I did have my fifth-grader in the audience, so he said ‘what does that mean?’ and I said well it means big hands, big feet. So, it was tough and we do want to see the dialogue elevated, and I do think that they got to that in the debate. Donald Trump has added a whole different factor that we’ve never seen before, but the audience loves it. We’ve seen the energy around our state, so many crowds coming, it’s good for democracy to have so many people engaged.”

On the controversy surrounding the political race, the insults and questionable language

“I wish we would be following Reagan’s 11th commandment. I do, I wish we weren’t attacking each other, but they are contrasting ideas, it does get passionate trying to make it clear to the voters that they are the best one to take that mantle to Hillary Clinton.”

Some have said the Republican Party created this situation. Do you think that’s fair?

“I think in Michigan our party has done a lot to grow and reach out. We’ve had an office in Detroit for over two years. The Democrats are nowhere to be seen in Detroit, and I do have a hard time talking to my kids about Hillary Clinton and national security and a private server and why she didn’t have to follow the same rules other people had to follow at the State Department in Benghazi. Those are far more pressing issues in terms of our national security that we should be concerned about.”

You think Hillary Clinton is grandstanding in Flint?

“Well I think, more than anything, in times of crisis we should be shedding party labels.”

How hard is it being the head of the Michigan state party?

“It’s been an interesting year to be chair, but in the five years that our governor has been the governor of Michigan, we’ve seen such a turnaround. We’ve added 420,000 new jobs, our unemployment’s 5 percent. Detroit, where you are right now, is booming. Businesses are coming back, people are moving back into the city, and that happened because of bipartisan work. It is what we should see across this nation."

You’ve pledged to remain neutral, but what if the candidate is the man your uncle has said ‘please don’t vote for?’

“I’m going to support the candidate that the voters chose. The voters get to choose who's best to represent them.”

On Trump's proposal for a religious test to bar Muslims from entering the country

“It’s for the voters to decide, but yeah, for me, I wouldn’t put a religious test. I don’t agree with everything each candidate says. I will support our nominee whoever it is.”

On how the party can recover from this, and accusations that Mitt Romney tacked to the right to win the nomination

“I can’t really speak for my uncle. I am extremely proud of him. He was the type of leader in Massachusetts that brought people together around tough issues and he has every right to come out. I’m not surprised that he’s passionate about this election, given the care and love that he’s had for this country, but we’re going to come around behind our nominee. My job is to unite everybody, bring everybody back together. Passions are high, but once the dust settles, we know what we have to do. Our purpose will unite us because we are so concerned about the trajectory of this country, economically, wages are stagnant, and people are not getting ahead under this Obama economy. Our national security is in a place where even my kids are concerned about things like ISIS when they hear about terrorist attacks on American soil. These are things that are being addressed by our candidates and it’s why we know that they are better suited to be in the White House than Hillary Clinton.”

Will Michigan make a difference on Tuesday?

“Yes, we’re a springboard to March 15th.”

After March 15th, it's winner take all.

“On March 15th its winner take all. We’re the last big state, we’re that largest delegate pot, going into that I believe that if you do well in Michigan that can carry some momentum into those big primary states.”

Michigan has a higher standard to get delegates.

“Above 15 percent, or you do not get delegates from our state.”


This segment aired on March 7, 2016.


More from Here & Now

Listen Live