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DES MOINES — The national Republican Party chairwoman said it was her intention from the start to maintain the party’s presidential nominating calendar — and Iowa’s leadoff status on it.
Speaking in Iowa at a state party fundraiser Wednesday night, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said her preference for the status quo is why she put Iowa state party chairman Jeff Kaufmann on the national committee that determined the order in which states will cast their votes for the Republican presidential nominee in two years.
National Democrats are having the same conversation, and national reports indicate that party is leaning toward a reshuffle of its presidential nominating calendar, which likely would include knocking Iowa from its first-in-the-nation perch.
“I didn’t want to change it,” McDaniel said Wednesday night at the Iowa Events Center. “There is a reason why I put Jeff as the head of the presidential nominating committee. It was a pretty good signal that I wanted to keep the map.
“Because then I knew the Democrats were going to be changing their map. … I figured that they’d be changing, and I wanted a very strong signal from the RNC.”
Asked how many other states wanted to supplant Iowa on the Republican side, McDaniel said the conversation never reached that point.
“We really didn’t have a lot of difference of opinion within the RNC,” she said. “We had a very diverse committee on the presidential nominating committee that Jeff was part of, we had people from every state, they looked at every option, and this is where we settled, and there was not a lot of dissension among the RNC, like you're seeing with the (Democratic National Committee).”
The Iowa caucuses have been the first early-voting presidential nominating event in the country in every quadrennial election cycle since 1972.
National Democrats recently delayed their decision on a new presidential nominating sequence until after this November’s elections.
Kaufmann said the biggest bipartisan element of his job is working with Iowa Democrats to keep both parties’ caucuses first-in-the-nation, and that he holds out hope Iowa Democrats will maintain their spot.
“I do believe that together we would be stronger. And I think it’s the national (Democratic) party that is literally just going to run over that,” Kaufmann said.
According to a party official, 450 people attended the fundraiser Wednesday night.
Throughout the event, Republicans warned against becoming complacent in a state that continues to inch in a more conservative direction, and to work hard in this fall’s elections.
Iowa Republicans enter the election season optimistic that they will not only maintain their dominance of federal and statewide offices in Iowa, but expand upon that roster by ousting Democratic incumbents in a Central Iowa congressional district and state offices like attorney general and treasurer.
Republicans also spent the night praising police officers and law enforcement — including mockery of calls to defund police departments — but also leveling heavy criticism of the recent FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s home in Florida.
In a statement, Iowa Democratic Party chairman Ross Wilburn accused the Republican Party of being “full of right-wing extremists” and charged that Iowa Republicans “will always put politics before people.”
“Meanwhile, President (Joe) Biden and Iowa Democrats like Congresswoman Cindy Axne are fighting to bring down costs for working families, strengthen Iowa’s economy, and make sure the ultra-rich and corporations pay their fair share,” Wilburn said in the statement.
The general election is Nov. 8.
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