- Former RNC Chair Michael Steele said the GOP threatens its own longevity by focusing on Trump.
- Steele said some GOP leaders want the party to move on from Trump and hope he’ll be arrested by 2024.
- But he added that many GOP voters and state party organizations are still loyal to Trump.
Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele said the GOP won’t last long if it continues to focus its attention on former President Donald Trump.
Steele served as RNC chair from 2009 to 2011 and endorsed President Joe Biden in 2020 but remains a Republican. He made the comment in an interview with Politico, in which he discussed the RNC’s relationship with Trump and the future of its current chair, Ronna McDaniel.
He said McDaniel, who is running for reelection, has to consider a Republican base still loyal to Trump, but that holding on to the former president could threaten the longevity of the GOP.
“And a party is not going to survive when it is fixated on the ramblings and musings of one person who, in the main, is not a Republican, is not a conservative, but has very effectively used both of those values to secure his political power,” Steele told the outlet.
Trump’s pull on voters has been called into question as the GOP failed to meet its expectations in the midterms, particularly as some of his endorsees lost to Democratic candidates.
“And so, for Ronna, the challenge for her is what do you do?” Steele said, per Politico.
The former RNC chair said McDaniel effectively chose Trump, citing how she dropped her middle name “Romney” at Trump’s request in 2017. McDaniel is the niece of Sen. Mitt Romney, who’s publicly criticized Trump since 2016.
Steele said McDaniel and the RNC are largely still under Trump’s thumb, even if some corners of the GOP are worried about what Trump may do as he builds his 2024 presidential campaign.
He added that some Republican leaders told him they privately wish Trump would be “sitting in a holding cell” by 2024, per Politico.
“So that tells me the level of anxiety that people have inside the party about Trump being allowed to roam free over the political landscape over the next 18 months,” he said.
But that sentiment against Trump isn’t translating into action from the GOP, he said.
“And I don’t know how the party exorcises that demon, because if you want to heal yourself, you’ve got to want to get better, right?” Steele said. “And if you’re not willing to do the things that are required to make you get better, to help you get better, you’re going to stay sick.”
Steele and representatives for Trump and McDaniel did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment sent outside regular business hours.