“There is a strong and growing outrage among the general public,” Morton Blackwell, a longtime Republican National Committee member from Virginia, said at the group’s winter meeting. He said the impeachment would “boomerang” against Democrats, just it did with Republicans who impeached President Bill Clinton in 1999. “Clinton got more popular. … I think they made a mistake.”
Jim Dicke, an RNC member from Ohio, said he thought public opinion was turning against Democrats, putting Republicans in a good position to hold the White House and Senate and win back the House.
“My gut tells me it will help us,” he said. “You’re not attending a doom-and-gloom RNC meeting.”
Why RNC members believe the public is on Trump’s side is unclear. Recent polling, including the large sample survey by Pew Research, shows that just over half of Americans not only believe Trump did something wrong when he tried to coerce Ukraine’s president into investigating former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, but that he should be removed from office for it.
At the president’s for-profit golf resort near the Miami airport, though, many of the 168 leaders of his party followed Trump’s lead in arguing that his behavior was completely above board.
Jonelle Fulmer, an RNC member from Arkansas, said Trump had every right to look into the “corruption” of Biden’s son Hunter.
Dicke agreed that Trump had done nothing wrong. “If a Democratic president did exactly the same thing that Donald Trump did, I wouldn’t have any problem with it,” he said.
Virginia’s Blackwell would not defend Trump’s actions, but he did say that removal from office was too harsh a penalty. “I might not like it, but it’s not an impeachable offense,” he said, adding that he could not explain why Trump did what he did.
“He’s Donald Trump,” he said with a shrug.
RNC officials did not respond to HuffPost queries about how much they are spending in total to host their three-day meeting. The group paid the Trump National Doral Miami resort $169,763 on Nov. 6, 2019, in advance of the meeting.
A similar meeting in May 2018 ended up costing the party $602,765. The RNC also paid Doral $84,822 to hold a lunch fundraiser there in June 2019.
Trump is the sole beneficiary of the trust that owns the Trump Organization, and the Trump Organization owns his hotels and golf resorts — meaning that profits from the RNC’s use of his properties flow directly into his pocket.