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Transcript: RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel on "Face the Nation," September 9, 2018

The following is a transcript of the interview with Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel that aired Sunday, September 9, 2018, on "Face the Nation." 

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we are back with the head of the Republican National Committee. Ronna McDaniel, welcome to "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: Good to be with you. And I know yesterday you were New York.


MARGARET BRENNAN: I had to ask you about this. You were alongside OMB director Mick Mulvaney when he was caught on tape, obtained by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, saying, "You may hate the president and there's a lot of people who do but they certainly like the way the country's going and when it comes to voters. You may have to subtract from the equation how they feel about the president and then the numbers go up dramatically." Do you think Republicans would fare better if President Trump was not so dominant in this race?

RNC CHAIR McDANIEL: The president has a 90 percent approval rating among Republicans. It's one of the highest in history for a president from his own party. And we have seen on the ground as we bring the president into these races, like Montana, where he was this week, the candidates numbers rise. We saw it with Matt Rosendale. We saw in Ohio when Balderston was in a very tough race. We brought the president into Delaware County and we saw him help propel that Election Day vote to victory. So the president is a great asset for us. And remember in the midterms it's the party that's turning out their base. We have to turn out our base first and with the president with this type of approval rating and with these results- with a three point nine percent unemployment with four million job- jobs coming back to this country. All the good things that people are feeling as you mentioned earlier wage increases of two point nine percent. People are feeling good about where they are. And the president is a great asset for us.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So is Mick Mulvaney flat out wrong?

RNC CHAIR McDANIEL: I didn't hear him say that. I was there. He was talking about the president being a decisive leader, he talked about his memory, he talked about working for him. I think he was just making the point that, maybe if you don't like a candidate, or you don't necessarily agree with them on everything, the results, in this instance, speak for themselves. And that you can't deny. And Democrats are going to try and make it about the president, they're going to try and make it about personality. But the results don't lie coming out of this administration. We are a better country. We are better off than we were two years ago. And everyone around the country is feeling that and that is because of this president.

MARGARET BRENNAN:  There was a recording that the Journal and The New York Times both had there also saying that Mick Mulvaney said there's a very real possibility that Senator Ted Cruz may lose his race in Texas.

RNC CHAIR McDANIEL: Yeah he said--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you going to lose Texas?

RNC CHAIR McDANIEL: No. He said it's important to be likeable--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You heard him say that?

RNC CHAIR McDANIEL: Yeah. What-- We're not going to lose Texas. He said it's important to be likable I'm going to make this point, I don't think it's likely. You could have Texas, you could have Florida in the play. He was talking to the candidates we had in the room about the importance of being likable. That is important. But we are not going to lose Texas. Anybody who watched Ted Cruz this week, in these Judiciary hearings with Judge Kavanaugh hearing him talk about the importance of rule of law. Hearing him talk about the importance of what Judge Kavanaugh would bring to the bench caring about the Constitution knows that Ted Cruz is an excellent representative for Texas and he is going to win that seat.


RNC CHAIR McDANIEL: And likeable. I think he's very likeable.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm just kidding. Typically when we look at midterm races the president's party often loses seats. I mean you've got some exceptions -- 98, 2002 -- will Republicans be able will hold control of the House? How certain are you?

RNC CHAIR McDANIEL: So first of all, we know the historical trends 30 seats lost in that first midterm when you hold the White House. Obama lost 60 seats and usually you lose seats in the Senate. So the Senate map we are talking about picking up seats which is unprecedented in a midterm of a first term president. So that's something that everyone should be looking at. One to see if we pick up one seat that will be defying history on the House. We have a lot of seats and the margin. Absolutely we've had an unprecedented amount of retirements and that has made it harder in some of these swing districts. But right now I'd say it's fifty fifty we are out every day working. The RNC has raised to date 250 million dollars. We've put four hundred five hundred forty nine staff on the ground. We've trained 20000 field organizers. That's four times more than we did in 2016. So our infrastructure to turn out our vote to engage with our voters to talk to them about these results is the best it has ever been in the midterms. Now candidates matter and that's going to be different in every single race. And we need these candidates to talk about their local issues go out there they have to work as hard as they've ever worked. Candidates who think that they're in safe districts they're going to have to give everything and we're going to be there backing it up at the RNC.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you said it's going to come down to the base in many ways, but a lot of traditional Republicans are troubled by some of the President's policies particularly on trade, tariffs, going against very traditional conservative values. How do you reconcile that?

RNC CHAIR McDANIEL: Well first of all, the President has done things that have been traditional Republican policies that we've campaigned on for years: deregulation, cutting taxes, strengthening our military, taking care of our veterans. And a lot of those things have spurred this economic growth, despite what President Obama's trying now to take credit for. But when it comes to the tariffs, the President has said he is for free trade. You saw that when he talked to the President of the European Union. He has said we don't want tariffs at all, but when we are in a position of a- of power, as our country is economically, and we are on the rise, he is going to say to countries like China, "You are not going to take advantage of the United States anymore." And he is negotiating from a physician of strength because when we're not in this position, we won't be able to fight the five hundred billion dollar deficit --

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- The pain is tolerable for now? --

RNC CHAIR McDANIEL:  -- He's making progress and he's fighting for Americans and he's fighting for American jobs and that's why he's so popular in my state of Michigan. I see it all over the country. People who were forgotten under the last administration feel like we have a president who's listening and caring about them. And the proof is in the results.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ronna, thank you very much.

RNC CHAIR McDANIEL: Thank you so much.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back in a moment with our panel.

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