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Jacques: McDaniel: The party has 'moved on'


Mackinac Island — Ronna McDaniel says the Republican Party has accepted the 2020 election and the reality that Joe Biden is president.

“We’ve moved on,” said McDaniel, who was here Friday to kick off the state Republican Party’s biennial leadership conference. “We know Joe Biden is the president right now. I think we’re looking at things that happened, to make sure that nothing bad happened, but we’ve got to be focused on 2022. You can do both at the same time.”

Asked if former President Donald Trump has also moved on, the Republican National Committee chairwoman wouldn’t speak for the former president, but says he is looking to the midterm elections.

“He’s endorsing candidates for 2022,” she says.

McDaniel says the party is pivoting from challenging election results to talking about the damage Biden and Democrats are doing to the country, from their handling of the border to the Afghanistan withdrawal to spiking inflation. 

Election audits and challenges across the country, including in Michigan, haven’t gone anywhere. The results of a 2020 presidential election review in Arizona’s Maricopa County were released Friday, showing a net gain of 360 votes for Biden — not exactly the results that Republicans there were hoping for. 

“I do think there were some process things in Arizona that need to be looked at,” McDaniel says. “You don’t want people voting out of their precincts and other things like that. I’m always like why can’t you do an audit and give people a look under the hood, things that worked or didn’t work and what we can fix.

“Elections are not always run perfectly so we should be looking at ways to improve them.”

The focus must now be on uniting the party around defeating Democrats, McDaniel says.

“I think a lot of people are focused on 2022 right now and we have to be,” she says. “We have to be focused on how we take back the House and Senate. I think a lot of people are concerned.”

McDaniel says new election laws getting enacted around the country could go a long way to easing concerns, including stronger voter ID requirements and other safeguards

“We’re seeing laws that are being passed that are going to assure our base that their vote will count, making it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” she says. 

McDaniel says Trump will remain a big player in the midterm elections. 

“Trump is the most popular Republican in our party. In our focus groups, he has a lot of sway. He’s going to be a key factor in getting out the vote in 2022.”

She says in the past, Trump’s endorsement has been a big deal.

“We’ll see going forward,” McDaniel says. “I think Joe Biden is going to be a pretty big factor in turning out Republicans right now. 

“We are feeling the disaster of the Biden administration, and I think that’s what’s going to wake up Americans to vote for Republicans in 2022.”

McDaniel also weighed in on other issues facing Michigan voters.

►On the case against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: “I see kids who were left behind by Gretchen Whitmer, my own included. I see kids that are not getting the help they need with a year and half of learning that they lost, and I see a state in decline.

“The fact that we are losing a congressional seat under her tenure means people are moving away, and I think she’s going to have a tough challenge.”

The state’s August primary favors incumbents, however, and McDaniel says that makes for a tougher race for the challenger. 

►On Michigan’s independent redistricting commission: “The redistricting commission is a hoax,” she says. The party will “absolutely challenge” the process in court if it's not done in a fair way. 

►On abortion as a 2022 issue: “We’ll see with Texas. People understand states will make their own laws. Most people wake up every day thinking about how they’re going to pay for gas and groceries. What are the issues I’m facing today with my family?

ijacques@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques