Interviews

Ronna McDaniel talks Montana and Georgia special elections

RNC chairwoman provides insight about the state of GOP races on 'Your World'

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 26, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, "YOUR WORLD" HOST: Well, it looks like Republican candidate Greg Gianforte will be going to Washington, winning that Montana special election, and apologizing in the process for an assault on a reporter.

What is ahead for Republicans after all of this?

On the phone with us right now is Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

Ronna, very good to have you. Thanks for coming.

RONNA ROMNEY MCDANIEL, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thanks for having me, Neil.

CAVUTO: You also were saying that a first step was this apology on behalf of the congressional candidate-elect.

But, you know, he still faces some hurdles, as you know, Ronna, not the least of which is an assault charge and, if they took it to the max, maybe up to six months in jail. How does -- how do you deal with that?

ROMNEY MCDANIEL: Well, we're going to let the legal process play out.

He has been charged with a misdemeanor assault. That's going to have to be something that he reconciles. And I think the first step was that he had to apologize, which he did. And we will move forward.

CAVUTO: Separately, with so much we don't know about this, it would seem unlikely about the jail time anyway, to your misdemeanor point.

But this Atlanta race is turning out to be interesting, where the Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, is now up, depending on the poll, by as much as seven points. Were you surprised at that in this heavily Republican district, you know, HHS Secretary Price's former district, Newt Gingrich's district, that a Democrat leads by that much?

ROMNEY MCDANIEL: Well, these are called special elections for a reason. And there are special circumstances. They're happening in an unusual time. It's the only thing on the ballot.

It gets inordinate attention. And it does come down to the two specific candidates that are going head to head. Jon Ossoff did have a big lead in the primary. We were able to whittle that down.

I think this is a neck-and-neck race, which is what we're seeing internally. And I think it be neck-and-neck until June 20.

CAVUTO: All right, so the fact that he had been polling even, if not up two points behind, and suddenly at a seven-point, is that an outlier, that poll, or what?

ROMNEY MCDANIEL: We're seeing Karen Handel doing well in the absentee returns.

I think that it's still even. It's going to be neck-and-neck until Election Day. And this is a district the president won by 1 percent. This is a truly swing district. But we're putting all of our resources there. We want to send a congressperson to Washington that is going to help the president, instead of impede his agenda and stop doing good things for the American people.

CAVUTO: Are you worried, though, Ronna, that the president's low poll numbers -- and that could change -- but that it is proving to be a drag or a potential drag for Republicans?

You're quite right to point out, as you have in prior visits, that Republicans have survived these, you know, finish-to-the-death races here time and time again, but that that is going to be a problem weighing on him, particularly as, whether people think it's justified or not, this Russian thing heats up.

ROMNEY MCDANIEL: Well, these special elections are special.

And you just saw in Montana Gianforte, who was down four points when he ran for governor last November, just wrapped himself around President Trump. He talked about President Trump and draining the swamp his entire race. And he ended up winning that congressional special, which is also -- also a statewide election.

So, it depends on each district. Listen, the president is going to Washington to get things done. He's restored our place, our national standing in the world as a global leader. We have seen that with this foreign trip. He's tackling the repeal and replace of Obamacare, tax reform, all these things we need to do to get our economy humming again.

I think he is going to be a win for any Republican running in these special elections.

CAVUTO: Ronna, I'm curious what do you think of former Speaker John Boehner's comments to an Associated Press reporter that, besides foreign policy -- and I'm quoting here -- "Everything else the president has done has been a complete disaster," went on to say that he's still, referring to the president, learning to be president, and that, furthermore, the president should not be allowed to tweet.

What did you make of that?

ROMNEY MCDANIEL: Well, I respectfully disagree with former Speaker Boehner.

We have seen a deregulation. You have seen him already investing in bringing jobs and wages back to our country. We have seen it here in Michigan with Ford investing $1.2 billion. This is a president who hit the ground running.

I know that's not something that, you know, Washington establishment always likes is a change agent coming. But he's a change agent. And people across this country want him to get those things done.

CAVUTO: Were you offended, just as an RNC chairwoman, by the treatment of the Europeans, some of whom seemed to be snickering at the president yesterday when he was bemoaning the fact that so many NATO nations, 23 of the 28, don't cough up the minimum amount of dough they are to fund NATO?

ROMNEY MCDANIEL: I was proud of President Trump for sticking up for the American taxpayer and saying it's time for you to shoulder your burden. You are not fulfilling your promise that you made to NATO. And you need to step up to the plate.

And I think the leaders of the world know that they're dealing with someone who means business.

CAVUTO: Ronna McDaniel, thank you very, very much, RNC chairwoman, joining us on the phone.

END

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