Washington • Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel says President Donald Trump has said he’s “sorry” she’s in a tough situation when Sen. Mitt Romney, her uncle, and the president are at odds.
McDaniel said Thursday that “it’s family,” and sometimes family members disagree but that Trump has been supportive of her at times when Trump and Romney were getting, well, testy.
“I will say, you know, there have been times where the president has said, ‘I’m sorry you have to deal with this.’ And been very kind,” McDaniel said in response to a question from The Salt Lake Tribune on a day when Romney joined other GOP senators for a White House meeting with Trump.
She said when the issue of her family connections makes news, Trump has been “very concerned.”
“I know the one day that [the Trump-Romney spat] got kind of a little more out there, I think [the president] called me at 10:30 at night and said, ‘how are you doing? It’s a tough day,’” McDaniel said at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor. “And then the next day, there was a tweet, ‘Ronna McDaniels, the best chair of the RNC we’ve ever had.’”
That tweet from the president came a day after Romney penned an op-ed in The Washington Post saying he would be critical of Trump when needed.
McDaniel called Romney an “incoming Republican freshman senator" who wasn’t being helpful to the GOP cause.
“For an incoming Republican freshman senator to attack @realDonaldTrump as their first act feeds into what the Democrats and media want and is disappointing and unproductive,” McDaniel wrote.
There have been plenty of days when Romney and Trump were crosswise.
The most recent example came when Romney said the president’s call with the Ukrainian president was “troubling in the extreme” and Trump responded by calling Romney a “pompous ass” and suggested Utahns want to impeach the senator (despite the fact you can’t impeach a senator).
Romney, returning from the White House on Thursday afternoon, told reporters his meeting was “friendly and cordial," after which a Washington Post reporter read aloud Trump’s “pompous ass” tweet.
“That’s as accurate as it is irrelevant," Romney responded.
McDaniel, who stopped using her maiden name after Trump joked about it, said Wednesday she really didn’t want to get into the “family” stuff, noting that, “I’ve said these are two grown men — very capable. They can work out their differences.”
The RNC chairwoman did note that she, like Romney, grew up in a political family: Romney’s father and McDaniel’s grandfather, George Romney, was Michigan’s governor and a one-time presidential candidate.
She said she talks to Mitt Romney at Senate policy lunches and occasionally other times – “I don’t know,” she said when asked. “How often do you all see your uncles?” – but added that politics isn’t a focus of their family-oriented discussions.
“It’s family stuff,” McDaniel said. “And I think it gets a lot of attention, obviously, because of the roles we’re in. But a lot of families have disagreements right now about politics. I think people can relate to that. So we just choose not to talk about it.”
McDaniel added that she feels for White House adviser KellyAnne Conway, whose husband, George, is a frequent and vocal critic of Trump.
So McDaniel and Mitt Romney aren't spending Thanksgiving together?
“I’ve never had Thanksgiving with my Uncle Mitt,” she said. “I mean, that’s not something in a negative way. I usually host Thanksgiving in Michigan. I don’t know where he has Thanksgiving — maybe Lake Winnipesaukee.”
That's a reference to Mitt Romney's vacation home in New Hampshire.
The next comment, though, from McDaniel may come up for discussion over turkey at the Mitt Romney table.
“What's funny is my Romney side is one way,” McDaniel said, “but my mom's side loves Trump.”
Romney said late Thursday that he agreed with his niece that family trumps politics.
“I’m proud of my niece," Romney said in a statement. "She’s a dedicated and loyal chairwoman, and she has a responsibility to do what she thinks is best for our party. At the end of the day, we both agree that family is more important than politics.”