Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel believes it is time for Republicans to move into governing mode and predicted that failing to keep promises would hurt the party in next year's midterm elections.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner at RNC headquarters Thursday, McDaniel, who took over as party chair in January, echoed recent claims by House Speaker Paul Ryan that the GOP agenda remaining stalled on Capitol Hill put the majorities at risk.
"It's hard to win if you don't govern. If you make these promises, it's going to be hard for us to win in the midterms," McDaniel said. "I think it's early. I think the president's working hard on those issues and we've already seen some very strong governance from the White House with deregulation, with [Neil] Gorsuch, with Keystone [Pipeline], with jobs coming back. But we have to continue that, and we have to keep promises that we made on the campaign trail."
While President Trump and some members of Congress hinted at a move toward taking on tax reform after the Obamacare repeal vote was pulled, healthcare discussions have resumed between the White House and various congressional factions, including the conservative House Freedom Caucus and the centrist Tuesday Group.
Nevertheless, McDaniel downplayed what Ryan described as Republican "growing pains" and praised the party's intellectual diversity.
"I actually think it's a strength of our party that we have a robust dialogue, that you bring different viewpoints to the discussion. The Democrats are always in lockstep with each and that is exactly why we have the disaster of Obamacare. They didn't have a discussion," the former Michigan GOP chairwoman said. "They didn't have people pointing out, 'hey, there's a flaw here. Let's talk about this. Let's take it to our constituents. Let's have a transparent process. Let's maybe read it before we pass it.' Those types of things maybe would have made it a better bill."
Only three months into her tenure, McDaniel is encouraged by the shape of the 2018 Senate map, where ten Democratic senators are up for re-election in states Trump won in November, including five where the president won by double digits.
After taking back houses of Congress and the presidency, McDaniel admitted that it is much easier to coalesce a party around opposition to power, as evidenced by Democratic resistance to Trump and Republican efforts against former President Obama. But she says she isn't disillusioned.
"It's very easy to unite a party around opposition or wanting to get the White House back. That's a unifying message, and you're seeing the Democrats uniting around being the party of 'no' and the party of 'resist,'" she said. "It is harder when you govern because you have things you have to run on and sometimes your constituents may not agree on certain things that you're doing. But there's a recognition that we have to maintain majorities if we're going to accomplish the agenda put forth by President Trump on the campaign trail."
Some Republicans also are troubled by their party's intense focus on the president, worrying that it will lead to a top-down approach that is bad for down-ballot candidates. McDaniel pushed back on this and insisted that Republicans will succeed in 2018 just as they have in 2010 and 2014.
"The RNC is completely focused on the entire ticket and maintaining and expanding majorities in the Senate and the House going into 2018," she said. "When you are doing what we do, which is build the ground game, you don't just lift the top of the ticket, you lift the whole ticket. "