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Tipsheet

Ronna McDaniel Calls for GOP to Embrace Early Voting in 'Every Republican Campaign'

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Vote early. Harvest ballots. Build broad appeal. Fight to win. These are the themes Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel will hit on in her remarks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, California on Thursday evening.

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"Contrary to what you might hear, we did ballot harvest where the law allowed it," McDaniel will say — according to an advance copy of her remarks obtained by Townhall — using the example of the RNC working with the California Republican Party to ballot harvest "right here in the Golden State."

"Two weeks ahead of Election Day, we worked with Congressman John Duarte’s campaign to identify 18,000 strong Republican voters who hadn’t voted yet despite a wide window of early voting," the RNC chairwoman will explain. "We shifted our strategy to repeatedly contact those voters as Election Day approached. Then, we worked with the California GOP to ballot harvest and ensure that those Republican votes made it to the ballot box in time to be counted." The result? "Congressman Duarte won by just 564 votes," McDaniel will highlight. 

That, she hopes, will become the blueprint for the next major national elections in 2024 where ballot harvesting is legal, all while continuing the RNC's legal work to maintain bans on harvesting where it remains unlawful. "We fight in the courtroom, but we play by the rules we’re given in the field," McDaniel will explain.

"We need to ensure that voters bank as many votes before Election Day as possible — through early voting, absentee voting, and ballot harvesting where it’s legal," McDaniel will add, calling for a continued GOP shift to beat Democrats at their own game. "If we only vote on Election Day, we will always be playing catch up to the Democrats," she'll emphasize. 

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McDaniel will issue a call for "banking votes early" to "be the focus of every single Republican campaign in the country and the RNC will lead the charge."

That strategy, of course, requires Republicans to win over Americans or the early votes won't matter. McDaniel will point out that the phenomena of "red states getting redder" has "electoral implications, especially when you factor in the rise of independent voters." That block of American voters, McDaniel will note, was 33 percent when Reagan left office, but now constitutes 42 percent.

"We need to appeal to independents and those Reagan/Trump Democrats to win," McDaniel will say. "So if we get tunnel vision and focus only on motivating our base, or only winning red states, the electoral math won’t be there for us to win the White House."

In addition to winning over independents and moderate Democrats, Republicans also have had to grapple with the challenge of winning over those within their own tent, a sometimes uncomfortable reality which McDaniel will not shy away from in her remarks Thursday evening.

"I am Mitt Romney’s niece and I was appointed chair of the RNC by Donald Trump," McDaniel will note. "I would support either of them if they were the nominee against Joe Biden in 2024, but I don’t know if they would support each other," she will add before noting she's "someone who literally has the entire spectrum of the party in my body" before calling for Republicans to "put aside our differences."

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"We have seen what being divided has meant in several states like Arizona, Georgia, and New Hampshire this last election where some Republicans refused to vote for the Republican nominees," McDaniel will warn. "If we let rigid ideological purity tests define who can join our movement — or allow personal animus to divide us, we will be no better than the left — and we will lose again and again," she'll add.

McDaniel, the longest-serving RNC chair since the Civil War, will also remind her audience that Republican candidates received three million more votes than Democrats did in the 2022 and, theoretically, if the midterms had been a presidential election cycle, would have won the Electoral College too. 

Still, McDaniel will acknowledge that "there were some disappointments in the last two elections" while also calling out "a lot of Republican candidates" who ran in 2022 and "took their DC consultants' bad advice to ignore" the subject of abortion following the Supreme Court's opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade

In doing so, McDaniel looks to thread the gap between building broad support while not making the Republican party a milquetoast gang of compromisers whose positions are defined by Democrats. Illustrating the point, McDaniel will note polling that shows, "when the choice is between a Democrat who wants zero abortion restrictions and a Republican who supports protecting life at 15 weeks, we win by 22 points."

McDaniel's remarks are part of the Reagan Foundation's "A Time for Choosing Speaker Series," referring to President Reagan's legendary 1964 speech that came just before an Election Day on which Republicans got walloped up and down the ballot. The speech made Reagan known as a champion of limited government and became a bright spot for a conservative movement that was otherwise beaten down. 

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Now, nearly 60 years later, McDaniel will paint a picture of an America once again at an inflection point, a time for choosing, between the crisis-ridden reality created by President Joe Biden and the Republican vision for a brighter future. "The choice Reagan laid out in 1964 is right in front of us today," McDaniel will say.

As the GOP moves toward its own "time for choosing" who will be the party's nominee for 2024, McDaniel will also announce that the second Republican presidential primary debate will be held at the Reagan Library, following the first 2024 debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

Editor's note: McDaniel's remarks from the Reagan Library will be streamed at 9:00 p.m. ET.

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