What could have ended up being an intraparty fistfight fizzled out.
It’s unlikely that Republican National Committee members huddling for their annual winter meeting this week in Las Vegas will see political fireworks over the party’s divisive presidential primary battle.
The RNC tells Fox News that they’re aiming for a ‘productive week’ with the goal of ‘delivering a turn-key infrastructure for our eventual nominee.’
And as the RNC gathers for sessions that had long been advertised as closed to the press, a draft resolution that would have declared former President Trump as the party’s presumptive 2024 nominee was quickly pulled late last week after it was introduced by Trump supporters on the committee.
Trump remains the commanding front-runner for the GOP nomination as he makes his third straight White House run. The former president scored double-digit victories the past two weeks in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, the first two contests in the Republican nominating calendar.
But former U.N. Ambassador and former two-term South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley – the last remaining major rival to Trump – won 43% of the vote in last week’s New Hampshire primary. Haley’s vowing to continue her uphill fight at least until Super Tuesday in early March. The next major contest in the GOP calendar is Haley’s home state, which holds a primary on Feb. 24.
The resolution was introduced by veteran RNC committee member from Maryland David Bossie, a longtime ally of the former president who served as a top official on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Even though Trump continues to hold immense sway over the GOP, there was both public and private opposition to the draft resolution among some of the RNC’s 168 committee members. Among those speaking out publicly was committee member Bill Palatucci from New Jersey.
‘A silly resolution to say he is the presumptive nominee, insulting to millions of primary voters who wait for the opportunity to get involved in presidential politics every four years,’ the Trump critic close to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told Fox News Digital last Thursday.
‘Another example of Trump’s authoritarian streak: ‘We don’t need Super Tuesday or any other primaries, I’ll just have it handed to me,’’ he added.
Likely sensing the poor optics, Trump hours later knocked down the resolution.
‘While they have far more votes than necessary to do it, I feel, for the sake of PARTY UNITY, that they should NOT go forward with this plan,’ the former president posted on his social media platform, Truth Social.
While the scrapped resolution was never added to the winter meeting’s agenda, it’s clear there will be friction this week about the effort to bring the nomination battle to an early conclusion.
A committee member who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely told Fox News on Tuesday, on the eve of the RNC meeting, that ‘a lot of people will be quiet on it. You’re not supposed to speak up. At this point, you know it’s going to be Trump. You are just supposed to take it.’
But the committee member added, ‘I’ve got no qualms with Bossie bringing up that resolution. He’s an RNC member. That’s his candidate. He’s trying to help his candidate. I get it.’
The RNC, in a statement, made it clear that longtime Chair Ronna McDaniel was not behind the introduction of the resolution.
‘Resolutions, such as this one, are brought forward by members of the RNC. Chairwoman McDaniel doesn’t offer resolutions,’ spokesperson Keith Schipper told Fox News last week.
But a couple of days earlier, McDaniel made headlines during a Fox News Channel interview in New Hampshire hours after Trump’s primary victory.
‘I’m looking at the math and the path going forward, and I don’t see it for Nikki Haley,’ McDaniel told anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.
‘I think she’s run a great campaign, but I do think there is a message that’s coming out from the voters, which is very clear,’ McDaniel added.
She urged that ‘we need to unite around our eventual nominee, which is going to be Donald Trump, and we need to make sure we beat Joe Biden.’
When asked by MacCallum if she was suggesting that Haley needed to suspend her campaign, McDaniel would only say that Haley and her team needed to ‘reflect’ about the upcoming contests in Nevada and South Carolina and to consider ‘what’s the most important thing going forward.’
McDaniel’s comments didn’t appear to be sitting well with some national party committee members.
‘The RNC has to be neutral,’ one committee member, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, told Fox News.
‘We have a one-on-one competitive race. Is there a favorite? Well, sure there is. But it’s a competitive race. Two states have gone. We’re a long way from anybody having 1,215 delegates to wrap this thing up,’ the RNC member said. ‘So, for her to hint that Nikki needs to get out of the race is beyond obnoxious, and it’s certainly not neutral.’
And Palatucci argued on Tuesday that McDaniel’s ‘never been neutral.’
But another RNC member, who also asked for anonymity, told Fox News, ‘I think Ronna has broad support on the committee, and that was demonstrated when she was reelected a year ago. It doesn’t mean that everybody agrees with everything that she does … but she’s the chair.’
Haley said in an NBC News interview on Sunday that the RNC was ‘clearly not’ being an honest broker in the nomination race.
‘If you’re going to go in and basically tell the American people that you’re going to go and decide who the nominee is after only two states have voted?’ she said, noting that it takes 1,215 delegates to secure the nomination, the vast majority of which have yet to be allocated.
The RNC says the national party committee, pointing to this week’s meeting, said it’s ‘focused on delivering a turn-key infrastructure for our eventual nominee, which is why we’ve posted field staff in 15 states and engaged in 77 lawsuits to protect commonsense election integrity laws.’
And RNC national press secretary Anna Kelly added that ‘we look forward to a productive week in Las Vegas as we prepare to beat Biden and win up and down the ballot in November.’
Meanwhile, McDaniel, in a Fox News Digital interview last week, highlighted the benefits of the GOP nomination race coming to an early conclusion.
‘Obviously, it’s helpful from an organizational standpoint, from a fundraising standpoint,’ McDaniel said. ‘The Democrats have the White House. They’re using the power of Joe Biden having the White House to raise a huge amount of money, and the sooner we can merge our operations and be focused on him and not on each other is always good for the party.’