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RNC is persuading voters to support Trump, says Ronna McDaniel

Ronna McDaniel is the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee and has played a key role in planning this week’s convention. From her party’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., McDaniel joins Judy Woodruff to discuss her goals for the RNC and whether they are being achieved, what she applauds about President Trump’s record and why she thinks voters will choose him over Joe Biden.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Ronna McDaniel has played a key role planning this week's convention. She is the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

    And she joins us now from her party's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    Ronna McDaniel, thank you very much for being here.

    So, you're now at the halfway point. How do you feel the takeaway is so far? What do you think people are taking away from this convention?

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    I think people are recognizing that we're telling the story of real Americans in their own words and how the policies of this administration have impacted their lives directly, the farmer, the person who had a business where the PPP loan helped them, a child who benefited from the right-to-try executive order, the lobstermen from Maine.

    So, that was our hope, is that it would be about the people of America and telling their stories.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We notice the people who calculate TV audiences say the number watching the first night was, overall, less than it was for the Democratic Convention.

    Last night, you were a lot closer. It was very close. But do you think you're reaching not just the base you want to reach, but are you also reaching persuadable voters, do you think?

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    I do. I do think we're reaching persuadable voters.

    I was listening to comments on C-SPAN last night after the programming was done, and there were many voters calling in and saying: I'm switching to Republican.

    There was one Democrat from Lorain, Ohio, who said: I am so pleased with what I'm seeing, I'm switching my vote.

    Those are the things we're hearing. If you count our digital channels, which, of course, the RNC and the Trump campaign are pushing this out on our digital channels as well, the viewership is incredibly high.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    There is a fair amount of commentary out there about what is perceived as a disconnect about some of President Trump's record and what is being said at the convention, I mean, with regard to the pandemic, with regard to the economy.

    But even with regard to opioid addiction, just for example, one speaker described a decrease in opioid death in 2018. But we looked at federal, preliminary data from the CDC, and, in 2019, fatalities were up.

    So, how much fact-checking is going on with your speakers?

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    Well, there's always going to be fact-checking. And you can't deny the Trump administration has invested heavily, $6 billion, into the opioid pandemic.

    You saw those numbers. The president has tackled this head on, and we're talking about what the administration is doing every day to fight a crisis.

    And I think the first lady made a good point last night. And I appreciate you bringing this up. Let's not talk about gossip as much as in our headlines. Let's talk about the opioid crisis. The president has declared it a public health emergency.

    We have people from all walks of life continuing to pass away and be afflicted by this terrible crisis, yet it doesn't give — isn't given the headlines that it deserves.

    But we're really pleased. And, again, these are stories told by people in their own words. I don't think you can fact-check somebody who is saying, this is what happened for me, and this is why my life is better because of this policy. That's just the truth.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    There's been — separately, there's been a pretty dark picture painted at the convention of what Vice President Biden would do if he were elected president.

    He's been called a socialist, and worse, somebody who's embraced the Bernie Sanders agenda. We know Joe Biden is clearly to the left of President Trump, but he has not embraced defunding the police. He has not embraced government-paid Medicare for all, for example.

    So, do you owe your viewers a more realistic description of what Joe Biden stands for?

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    Well, Joe Biden actually has said he would redirect funds from the police. I consider that defunding.

    If somebody says, I'm going to take funds away from you and redirect them somewhere else, that means you're not getting the funding. He's picked a running mate in Kamala Harris who absolutely has embraced Medicare for all and a government takeover of health care.

    And if you look at the platform of the party, which he combined with Bernie Sanders to create, there's a lot in there that has shown that Joe Biden has lurched very leftward in his party and embraced many of the policies of Bernie Sanders.

    And you know who said that at the convention? Bernie Sanders. He said: I ran on things that were out of the mainstream four years ago that are now part of our party.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I want to ask you very quickly, Ronna McDaniel, about former President George W. Bush.

    Is he going to appear at the convention? And what about your own uncle, your former Republican nominee for president Senator Mitt Romney? Are they going to be there? And, if not, why not?

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    Well, it is a different convention, Judy.

    And I think you recognize that. It's a virtual convention, so it's not the same as crowds in Charlotte, like we were hoping to have, with the candidates parading across the stage.

    So, we have two hours of programming that's covered every night, and the president made a decision: I want this to be about the American people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But they're not — but they're also not appearing in videos at the convention. And you have had two iconic Republican leaders pass away since the last convention, former President George H.W. Bush, John McCain.

    What does it say, I think, about the party, Republican Party of today, that none of these figures is involved?

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    Well, I don't know if you have looked at the Democrat Convention and how many politicians they omitted.

    I mean, we obviously at the RNC recognize the passing of our former president and our former nominee. But, right now, this convention is about nominating Donald Trump for president.

    And with the restrictions that COVID has placed on our convention, I think most Americans recognize that the limited programming we have is going to be focused on why we need to reelect President Trump.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right, well, we're going to leave it there. We will be watching tonight and tomorrow night.

    Republican Party Chair Ronna McDaniel, thank you very much.

  • Ronna McDaniel:

    Thank you.

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