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On Election Day, GOP chair says ‘people’s lives are better’ under Trump

As voters head to the polls, Republicans are asking them to consider whether or not they’re better off than they were two years ago. Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, joins Judy Woodruff to explain why her party sees this election as a choice between “results” and “resist and obstruct.”

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    So we turn now to two prominent voices from both political parties.

    First up, Ronna McDaniel. She's the chair of the Republican National Committee.

    I spoke with her just a short time ago, and started by asking what the central message of the Republican Party is as voters go to the polls.

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    Well, the question we're asking voters is, are you better off than you were two years ago?

    More jobs have come to this country. Unemployment rates are at record low, especially for the Hispanic and African-American communities. Wages are growing for the first time in a decade over 3 percent. People's lives are better. So it's a real choice.

    Do you want to continue this path of economic prosperity, or do you want to go down the path of resist and obstruct that the Democrats are offering? And we have to build that contrast into voters' minds and have them make a choice. And we think they're going to pick the results and the record of the accomplishments of the Trump administration that is benefiting the American people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We are hearing the candidates talk about some of this, but we're also, Ronna McDaniel, hearing President Trump out on the trail talk a lot about immigration, about fending off what he describes as hordes of dangerous migrants heading into this country.

    This is a country of, what, 325 million people. Is this truly the critical issue the president makes it out to be? Or is this more of a fear tactic, as some people describe it?

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    Well, he has talked about a multitude of issues.

    And the president has run on his accomplishments, talking about the trade deals, with the USMCA, and the jobs and all the good economic numbers. But he has talked recently about immigration because of the current state of this caravan coming toward this country.

    And I do think it's that question that we need to take to the American people, again, results vs. resistance. We are party right now that is solving problems. We have an issue with people coming to our border. Asylum claims are up 1700 percent in the past eight years.

    We don't want 12,000 kids coming unaccompanied, like we have right now sitting at DHS, coming without their parents. Something is wrong with our immigration system. We need to fix it. And the president is saying once again, I will tackle tough issues.

    And it's not a huge surprise that he's talking about immigration, because he talked about immigration and the economy in 2016, and he's ending 2018 talking about those same two issues.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But talking about it in a way that invokes fear.

    And, again, we're a very big country. This is a country of hundreds of millions of people. We're talking about a few thousand people, many of whom would end up applying for legal asylum.

    And so I think, isn't there a disconnect between how the president portrays this and the reality on the ground?

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    Well, in his press conference that he gave from the White House last week, I don't think he talked about fear, as much as he recognized there's a lot of people who want to come to this country because they see the prosperity. They see it as a beacon of hope.

    And we understand that. We are a country that's welcoming to immigrants. We bring in a million new immigrants a year. And he's saying let's do it legally and let's fix our system. But we certainly don't want bad actors to get in because we don't have the border security we need or the checks we need. And we need to fix that.

    And there have been bad actors let into our country. And that's not something any American wants, but he recognizes that people want to come to this country. We deserve not just for our country to build — to have immigration reform. We just — we need to have that for the people who are trying to get here. Let's do it in a legal way.

    Let's work with Democrats to get that done. The president, again, is saying, let's solve problems that have not been solved for decades.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Is this election a referendum on President Trump?

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    You know, it's a referendum on the results, absolutely, because Nancy Pelosi has said she wants to raise taxes, she wants the resist and obstruct.

    And I think that's concerning. And we're bringing that contrast to the voters. But we also know, Judy — and you know this — historically, the party that holds the White House loses 30 seats in the House and two to three seats in the Senate.

    So, the fact that we're competitive right now tonight is a good sign. We want to keep those majorities and we want to keep the good things happening for the American people. But it's going to be a tough night in some ways, because we know history is against us. And that's why the RNC has been on the ground for two years. We have raised record money.

    We have built the biggest voter turnout machine in history, because we knew that Democrats had that energy, and we had to match it with our infrastructure. And our energy is rising as well.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, if the party — if you are to lose seats or lose control of the House of Representatives, whose fault will that be?

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    I don't know if you can say it's anybody's fault.

    It's a lot of circumstances. And part of it is a historical trend. Part of it is 44 retirements in the House. And I think the voters need to take a look at what Nancy Pelosi does sometimes as — if she becomes speaker, because she's talking about resist and obstruct, but sometimes you don't know what that means until she gets the gavel.

    I think we can win the House, but voters sometimes come out and vote for the opposition and not for the results that are happening. And we're trying to change that course and defy history and make sure people understand what's at stake with this election.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Ronna McDaniel, I want to ask you about something else Republican candidates, many of them, are talking about, and that's with regard to health care.

    They're talking about preserving, protecting those with preexisting conditions. Now, this comes on the heels of almost all of them voting time after time after time to do away with the Affordable Care Act, so-called Obamacare, which did protect preexisting conditions.

    So there is a contradiction there that I think hasn't been explained.

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    There is not a contradiction, because every Republican has said we wanted to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a health care plan that restores the doctor-patient relationship.

    We have been very clear about that, and saying we want to keep preexisting condition coverage in that replacement. So it's disingenuous for Democrats to say we want to repeal Obamacare and get rid of preexisting condition coverage, when every Republican, including the president, has said, we don't want the take away preexisting condition coverage.

    We want to replace it with something better that's more patient-centered and more cost-efficient for the American people. And that's a fact.

    You know, I have a preexisting condition. I have asthma. I have family members with preexisting conditions. We don't want to take away that coverage. And that fear-mongering has been part of the Democrat tool book this election cycle. And it's something that's not fair to the American voter, and it's also not truthful.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, I ask because I think, during those long debates, it didn't come up. You didn't hear Republicans talking about protecting those with preexisting conditions.

    Ronna McDaniel, thank you very…

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    Well, we have always said repeal and replace. We have always said repeal and replace, and preexisting conditions was part of that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican Party, thank you so much for making time for us.

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    Thank you for having me.

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