The following is a transcript of an interview with RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel that aired Sunday, November 1, 2020, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Republican Party headquarters and chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. Good morning to you. In 2016, President Trump staged this–
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN RONNA MCDANIEL: Good morning. Thanks for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re glad to have you. President Trump staged a late and historic surge back in 2016. But you heard there, there is record early turnout already at 2016 levels in Texas and Hawaii. It’s approaching them in a number of other key battlegrounds. So is your turnout get out the vote operation enough to help you close this on Election Day?
MCDANIEL: Well, I- I agree with the analysis we just had. COVID has changed things, so it’s pulled a lot of Democrat Election Day voters into that absentee and early vote category. And Republicans are wanting to vote on Election Day in person and cast their ballot that way. So we feel very strong that we have a surge coming on Election Day. We’ve also built the best ground game in history with 2.5 million volunteers and 3,000 staff on the ground. And we are contacting these voters right now all weekend through the next few days to make sure they turn out to vote. But he’s exactly right. The margins are going to be based on that Election Day turnout and Republicans will have a surge that day. We’re going to- we’re going to have that, and that’s why we’re going to win.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The president said yesterday, if we win Pennsylvania, it’s over. But, you know, you need to do much more than that to get to- to 270. He’s playing defense in Florida. He’s playing defense in Georgia. What is the path to 270 that you have charted?
MCDANIEL: Well, Florida is critical, and we’ve seen us take the lead in early voting and really erase the deficit we had with the absentee ballots. So as our voters- as early voting becomes available to our voters, they’re doing it. And we feel very good about Florida. Georgia and North Carolina the same thing. As early voting has started in those states, Republicans have- have erased the lead that Democrats had in absentee ballots. And then, of course, you’ve got to go up to Arizona and then the Midwest states, which are all too critical. And the president has a record to run on. Joe Biden said, I’m going to get rid of fracking. That’s critical in the state of Pennsylvania. When the president- when Joe Biden says I’m going to eliminate oil and gas, people in the Midwest are cold. We don’t want to pay more for gas and for heating costs. So these are really critical issues. And of course, Biden saying I’m going to raise your taxes is something that’s not tenable for a lot of people who are living paycheck to paycheck.
MARGARET BRENNAN: As you know, Biden has said fracking on federal lands versus others is a difference for him. But to get back to that idea of the ground game that you- you are credited personally with really having invested a lot of money into for the Republican Party, if your voters are so excited about President Trump, why haven’t they shown up yet?
MCDANIEL: Because they really want to vote in person.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why?
MCDANIEL: And I will say it’s been interesting, MARGARET, this year, as we’ve surveyed our voters, a vast majority of them want to vote in person. They want to make sure that- that their vote counts. They’re not completely trusting of the mail ballot system. And so they’ve made that very clear. And we saw this in these special elections, in the Chris Jacobs election in New York 27 the Democrats had a very large lead in absentee ballots heading into Election Day. And then we won Election Day by 40%. And that’s kind of the flip flop we expect to see on Election Day this year with our voters coming out Election Day as they stacked gains with absentee ballots.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You had a big profile in The Wall Street Journal. It came out just yesterday and you said in it, you acknowledged, “We know some suburban women who were with Donald Trump in 2016 may have faded away.” Our data shows it’s more than faded. It’s been a large swing. Why have you lost women in that way?
MCDANIEL: Well, I think women are coming back. Women make a majority of the health care decisions, and as they see us on track to a vaccine, they see the therapeutics coming in. They want to see their kids in school. They agree with things like school choice that Republicans are putting forward and also law and order. What we’re seeing in these cities, Democrat run cities have really brought women back to President Trump because they do not want to see cities burned down, the looting, the rioting. We’re seeing this in Philadelphia right now. They don’t want to see police defunded. So women are issue voters. We know this, MARGARET. We’re don’t- we’re not monolithic. We’re over 50% of the electorate. We’re not single-issue voters, but we’re making decisions based on our lives and every single issue impacts us. But I do think one of the overwhelming issues we’re seeing that’s bringing them back right now in the suburbs is law and order.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Dan Crenshaw, as you know, a prominent Republican freshman was interviewed recently. And he said the lack of suburban support he sees in his area of Texas is about a personal dislike for President Trump. You disagree?
MCDANIEL: You know, I think women can- I think we can get over- first of all, if you don’t like somebody, it’s what are- how are they going to govern? I mean, I don’t know if I agree with Dan on that. I personally like President Trump. But if you look at taxes, I don’t want my taxes raised right now. I want to have energy independence. I’m really pleased with what he’s done with judges, especially putting a woman like Amy Coney Barrett on the bench who- who’s a trailblazer and a mom of young kids–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why isn’t the president giving that as his closing argument?
MCDANIEL: –you look at–
MARGARET BRENNAN: He’s instead talking about–
MCDANIEL: He is. He’s talking about the economy, day in and day out.
MARGARET BRENNAN: –violence in cities. Not in–
MCDANIEL: He’s talking about the whole thing. He’s talking to every voter about the importance of–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sorry, go ahead. We have a bit of a delay. Go ahead, finish your thought.
MCDANIEL: Sorry, that’s OK. He’s talking about safety in our cities, but he’s also talking about the economy. I mean, he is saying the best is yet to come. We’re already coming out of this pandemic with strong economic numbers, with 11.4 million jobs, with 33% GDP. And we’re going to come out of this. And there’s a real contrast between his policy and Joe Biden. He’s saying we can take care of our sick and our elderly and those with underlying conditions and keep our economy open. Or Joe Biden, who’s saying if the science tells me, I’ll lock it down, which we’re seeing all through Europe right now, and it will destroy our economy. So these are very contrasting visions. And I think the American people are saying, I can’t afford for the economy to close down. It makes sense to take care of our sick and our elderly and those with underlying conditions, but find a way to keep the economy open.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Dr. Fauci recently addressed that idea of only protecting the elderly in a Washington Post interview and- and basically says that that doesn’t work as a strategy. But I want to quickly get your comment on something that has happened and is getting a lot of attention. The FBI is now looking at this incident that happened yesterday where a convoy of trucks flying Trump flags encircled a bus, a Biden-Harris campaign bus in Texas. And one of them at a certain point, sideswipes- collides into the van traveling with the bus. Thankfully, no one was hurt. The president tweeted out a version of this video yesterday. What is your response to that? I mean, that appears to be an act of intimidation being endorsed by the president.
MCDANIEL: You know, I haven’t seen that part of the video, I saw a little bit of the Trump supporters surrounding the Biden bus. Certainly you don’t want harm, and we shouldn’t be hurting other people. So the president would not endorse that. But I have- I can’t comment on- on that because I haven’t seen the whole video.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, everyone who follows the president’s Twitter account saw that, which is why I wanted to get you to comment on it. Thank you so much. Ronna McDaniel. FACE THE NATION will be back in one minute. Stay with us.