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RNC chair says GOP will be neutral in 2024 presidential primary

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said Wednesday that the national GOP will stay neutral in its next presidential primary, even if former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE decides to make another run for the White House.

“The party has to stay neutral. I’m not telling anybody to run or not to run in 2024,” McDaniel told The Associated Press in an interview. “That’s going to be up to those candidates going forward. What I really do want to see him [Trump] do, though, is help us win back majorities in 2022.”

It’s not unusual for a political party to remain neutral in a primary. In most cases, national parties refrain from endorsing a candidate until their nominating contests are largely wrapped up. 

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But Trump has served as the GOP’s center of gravity  and its most influential member  for more than four years. In turn, the national party has been one of his biggest boosters. 

Now settling into his post-presidency, Trump has not said for certain whether he will run for a second term in the White House in 2024, though he established a leadership political action committee in November that will allow him to continue to raise and spend money as he seeks to hold onto his influence over the GOP and its candidates.

At the same time, reports have surfaced that Trump is weighing potentially creating his own political party and leaving the GOP altogether. McDaniel told the AP, however, that the former president was aware of the political damage such a move would cause to Republicans’ electoral prospects.

“It would be basically a rubber stamp on Democrats getting elected. And I think that’s the last thing that any Republican wants,” McDaniel said. “It’s clear that he understands that.”

Despite his outsize presence in the Republican Party, several others are seen as potential hopefuls for the GOP’s 2024 nomination. Among them are Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China DeSantis's rising GOP profile fuels 2024 talk MORE (R-Fla.) and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyTrump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC The Memo: Is Trump mounting a comeback — or finally fading? Haley praises Trump CPAC speech after breaking with him over Capitol riot MORE, both of whom have cast themselves as staunch supporters of the former president. 

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McDaniel, a close Trump ally, was first elevated to the top job at the RNC in 2017. She was reelected to a third term in the position earlier this month in a unanimous vote.

But unlike her first two terms as RNC chairwoman, McDaniel now presides over a party that is scrambling to find its footing after Trump’s loss to President BidenJoe BidenSenate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Ex-Trump appointee arrested in Capitol riot complains he won't be able to sleep in jail Biden helps broker Senate deal on unemployment benefits MORE in November. At the same time, Trump is facing an upcoming trial in the Senate after the House voted earlier this month to impeach him for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

With Trump now out of Washington and staying at his Mar-a-Lago estate in South Florida, some Republicans have sought to steer the GOP away from the former president. But Trump still maintains the support of an ultraloyal voter and activist base that wields influence over state and local Republican parties and conservative groups.

In her interview with the AP, McDaniel acknowledged that Trump still has a “huge, huge presence” among his base. But she said that her focus as RNC chair is on uniting the party and winning back GOP control of the House and Senate, which Democrats flipped earlier this month after winning two runoff elections in Georgia. 

“If we’re fighting each other every day and attacking each other and brandishing party purism, we’re not going to accomplish what we need to to win back the House and take back the Senate, and that’s my priority,” McDaniel told the AP.